Bartolo Colon's comeback picked up speed Sunday when he showed excellent control during his first batting practice session of spring training and was scheduled to pitch in a game Thursday.
Colon has been impressive since Boston signed the former Angel to a minor league contract Feb. 25. He threw three bullpen sessions in the previous six days without facing hitters.
"He's ready for some game activity," pitching coach John Farrell said after Sunday's 43-pitch session in Fort Myers, Fla.
Colon won't throw more than 30 pitches or two innings against Tampa Bay in his spring debut, Farrell said.
After Sunday's batting practice session against four minor leaguers, Colon said through an interpreter that he "feels better than ever" after two injury-plagued seasons.
Colon would be more important if Josh Beckett is slowed by a back problem. Boston's ace left after experiencing back spasms during six warmup pitches before Saturday's game against Florida.
Beckett seemed better Sunday in the Red Sox clubhouse. Manager Terry Francona said the problem was muscular, but there was no word on when he would pitch again.
After failing to get out of the first inning in his first two spring starts while piling up a 40.50 earned-run average, San Diego Padres left-hander Randy Wolf pitched three innings, giving up two runs and five hits while striking out five and walking none against the Chicago White Sox. . . . The Arizona Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson is expected to pitch two innings today in his first spring start since undergoing his second back surgery in less than a year last summer. . . . Right-hander Sidney Ponson, 31, and the Texas Rangers agreed to a minor league deal.