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Pregame notes: Clay Buchholz, Erik Bedard throw side sessions

09.17.11 at 4:26 pm ET

The Red Sox received some good news before Saturday’s game when Clay Buchholz was able to throw a 30-pitch side session. Buchholz has been out since June 16 with a stress fracture in his spine. Buchholz threw from 60 feet on Saturday and had Conor Jackson stand in as a batter, although Jackson was not swinging. Buchholz said he was pleased with the outing even though he is not yet throwing at 100 percent.

“I was probably 75 percent, maybe 80 percent toward the end,” Buchholz said. “If I get to throw three more [side sessions] with nothing, no pain added, there’s a good chance I’ll be 100 percent by the third time.”

Buchholz threw off a mound Thursday and recovered well, saying he woke up with “nothing out of the ordinary” Friday. If Buchholz recovers well from Saturday’s session, manager Terry Francona said he hopes to let him throw again either Monday or Tuesday.

“He came through it really well and felt good about himself,” Francona said. “Now we’ve got to figure out the next step, and not because of him physically necessarily but because Monday is [a doubleheader]. Can we get him to throw in between or do we need to maybe wait until Tuesday?”

Although Buchholz said he was pleased with his progress so far, he is not sure that he will be able to see game action by the end of the regular season.

“My thought process has never been pitching in the regular season,” Buchholz said. “I want to be back by the playoffs. If we work up to that point and I feel good enough to pitch in that last series [of the regular season], then I don’t see why not, but it’s not my goal.”

Erik Bedard also threw a side session before Saturday’s game. Bedard has been sidelined since suffering a strained lat on Sept. 3. Francona said it is still too early to determine when Bedard will return to the rotation. Both Bedard and pitching coach Curt Young reported that the lefty executed the 35-pitch exercise without incident.

“We’ve got some moving parts right now, obviously,” Francona said. “We want to see how he comes through the side and then we want to gauge where we think he is. Then we can make some decisions.

– Francona’s comments on Kevin Youkilis‘s status prior to Saturday’s game did not sound promising. Youkilis is still very sore and will not play Saturday. Francona said he does not know whether rest will help Youkilis recover sufficiently from the discomfort he’s facing related to hip bursitis and a sports hernia.

“We’re certainly going to give him the chance, but right now we just don’t know,” Francona said. “Either way, if a guy’s good, we want to play him but right now, that’s probably not realistic. Where it goes from here, we just don’t know.”

– Francona clarified what type of neck issue J.D. Drew is dealing with, saying the neck was just stiff and should not be anything serious or set him back further. Drew is still struggling to hit after suffering an avulsion fracture in his middle finger, but the right fielder did see improvement throwing.

– Closer Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 30th save Friday, marking six straight years in which Papelbon had 30 saves. Francona reflected briefly on Papelbon’s growth over the years prior to Saturday’s game.

“It’s especially nice when you see guys come through the organization and you see them grow up,” Francona said. “I can even think back to that game in Ft. Lauderdale [when Papelbon was a rookie] where he missed the bus and thought the bus was going to swing by and pick him up. Now you look at a guy who has 30 saves in six straight seasons. It’s kind of funny.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Erik Bedard, J.D Drew, Jonathan Papelbon
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