ST. PETERSBURG -- As much as Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz would love to graduate to a full-blown throwing program in which he could set a target date for his return to the rotation, that is not possible at this time.
Buchholz is still waiting for the symptoms in his back to subside enough to the point where he can throw off the mound. In the meantime, he is limited to playing catch.
"I don't think there's really a timeline," Buchholz said. "It's basically just from the doctors that I've seen, it's basically just going to be a feel thing. When it feels alright to take the mound, that's when I'll do it. It's something that I don't think I can really rush into or try to do more than I can on that particular day, just for the fact that it's a muscle in my back. Until it feels better, I don't think I'll be able to really get off the mound."
Buchholz last pitched for the Red Sox on June 16 at Tropicana Field.
"It's been tough on me just for the fact that I thought it was going to be a 15-day stint and be over and done with, and it hasn't been that," said Buchholz. "It [stinks]. Obviously I want to be pitching, I want to help the team in any way I can. Me going out there not 100 percent, or not 80 percent, I don't think is going to help the team. I think if I rush back into it, it will be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don't want that. I'd rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent and I feel like that's the way that I can help this team win."
The official diagnosis is a lower back strain. Buchholz went to a specialist 10 days ago, he confirmed the club's diagnosis -- that rest and rehab should eventually heal the injury.
"I think we're doing everything we can to get to that point," Buchholz said. "I know it's not anything with structural damage as far as my spine or anything. That's a good thing. It's a muscle that's always working. There's never really any rest. Obviously walking around, you're working your back."
The positive news is that Buchholz did feel a little better when he played catch at Tropicana Field on Thursday and Friday.
"Went out there, just basically wanted to play catch at 50 percent and I actually went a little bit harder than that, because I didn't feel anything like I thought I was going to," Buchholz said. "Throwing has never really been the issue. It's been pitching when throwing off the mound. I don't think I'm at that point yet, but yesterday was a step in the right direction, for sure."
He recently had a cortisone shot as well.
"Yeah, it's helped," Buchholz said. "But at the same time, I can still feel something back there. My whole outlook on it was to let it be 100 percent before I came back and it's just taking a little bit longer than I wanted it to."
Red Sox place Jenks on DL for third time
ST. PETERSBURG -- It appears that a restful All-Star break did not do much good for Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks, who has had a hard time staying on the mound this season. The righty felt pain in his left mid-back area while warming up for Friday night's game, and was placed on the disabled list for the third time this season before Saturday's game against the Rays.
The ailment is in the same area that led to Jenks' second DL stint from June 8-28. He also was down from May 2-30 with a right biceps strain.
Jenks flew back to Boston and will be examined by the team's medical staff at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. Because Jenks did not pitch Friday, the move will be made retroactive to July 8.
The contract of lefty Randy Williams was purchased from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Jenks on the roster. To make room for Williams on the 40-man roster, Boston designated Tommy Hottovy -- who had a stint on the Major League roster last month -- for assignment.
Signed to a two-year, $12 million deal, the Red Sox envisioned Jenks would join Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon as a potentially dominant 1-2-3 bullpen punch.
While Bard and Papelbon have performed as advertised, the Red Sox have never had Jenks healthy for an extended period.
"Not yet, not yet," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That's an important part of our bullpen. That complement to Bard or the seventh inning -- however you want to put it. Fortunately [Matt] Albers has been tremendous. [Alfredo] Aceves has been really good, too. But that other arm is a huge arm."
The Red Sox hope they can get the benefit of a healthy Jenks at some point.
"He's not just a thrower," Francona said. "He can manipulate the ball, he spins it. He's got a good feel for the game. We just haven't had him out there healthy. We miss that."
The 35-year-old Williams has pitched 90 games in the Major Leagues, including 27 with the White Sox last season. At Pawtucket this season, he has held lefties to three hits in 22 at-bats.
"I try to get them all out," Williams said. "Like I said, several years back I figured out it was not too good to look at stats because they were usually bad. Once I quit looking at that, things starting working out for me. I don't really look at it. I try to get everybody out that I can."
Williams has had some added velocity this season, as he's been clocked in the mid-90s.
"The last couple years I've been throwing harder than I used to," Williams said. "I don't know, maybe getting that old-man strength. It's been about as good as it's ever been for me."
Pedroia heating up just about on schedule
ST. PETERSBURG -- The only difference with Dustin Pedroia's hitting surge this year is that it has come a few weeks later than usual.
But the second baseman is in one of those grooves where he is squaring everything up, and getting results to go with it. Entering Saturday's game against the Rays, Pedroia was in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak which included a .377 average, six homers, 11 RBIs and seven walks.
"Pedey has the rare ability to get hotter than anybody I've ever seen, almost," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Fortunately it looks like he's wanting to do that. He can go on these runs where it doesn't matter what you throw him. He looks like he's starting to get to some balls he didn't earlier. Even when he's not hitting, he impacts the game. When he starts getting hot, that's really good."
It's probably no coincidence that Pedroia's hot streak comes at a time when he's feeling well from a health standpoint.
"That helps," Pedroia said. "My knee feels great, my foot's feeling good. I've just got to go out there and play hard and win games."