TORONTO -- After a dominating performance against the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians on Thursday, Red Sox right-hander Bartolo Colon could be just a couple of starts away from making his return to the Major Leagues.

Colon, who is currently with Boston's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket, pitched five shutout innings -- facing just one batter over the minimum -- while throwing 45 of his 74 pitches for strikes. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his outing, though, was his fastball, which was clocked as high as 96 mph.

"He threw very well," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "It doesn't sound like the line score was deceiving. ... Everyone who watched him was really impressed."

With a notable pitching line under his belt, questions continue to mount about when Colon might be ready to join the big league club. After his latest outing, Colon said he was a little unsure when that next step might take place.

"I know I'll be pitching again in five days," Colon told MLB.com on Thursday through an interpreter. "I'm not sure if it will be here or with the big club. It's their decision."

Francona had an answer for that on Friday. Colon will remain with Pawtucket for at least two more outings, with the goal being to increase his pitch count to the point where Boston would be comfortable having him make his 2008 debut in the starting rotation.

"I talked to him today, talked to him about getting out to maybe 85 [pitches] and then 100," Francona said. "I think the plan is to certainly get him up here and play for us. We're going to keep him on a five-day plan and try to get him to 100."

Colon signed a Minor League contract with Boston during the offseason. He won the 2005 American League Cy Young Award, but he has suffered through two injury-plagued seasons since that time. Last year, Colon went 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA over 99 1/3 innings with the Angels.