Top Prospects: Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox

KANSAS CITY -- Brock Holt was in the lineup for the Red Sox at third base on Friday night vs. the Royals, but the long-term solution at the hot corner is still to be determined, said manager John Farrell.

Holt, Brandon Snyder, No. 1 prospect Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks have all been in the internal conversation mix.

"When one of the mentioned steps up by his performance and his actions and says this is the one who is going to make us the best team ... that is the bottom-line goal," Farrell said. "There might be some fluctuation to that. I'm not saying the move is imminent. That's just the view that is taken for the four internal names that have been talked about at third base."

Buchholz: 'Everything is coming along'

LAA@BOS: Buchholz makes an amazing tag on Callaspo

KANSAS CITY -- Clay Buchholz leaned against a wall outside the Red Sox's clubhouse late Friday afternoon and reflected on a 40-pitch mound session that has the right-hander pointed in the right direction.

"Everything is coming along," Buchholz said. "It feels like my arm is catching up to my body better."

Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 9, with a neck strain, will throw a light side session on Sunday before the Red Sox depart Kansas City. He is plotting another light side session on Tuesday and said there's a possibility of a simulated game shortly thereafter if all goes well.

"I was able to throw all my pitches," said Buchholz, who threw 27 pitches in Houston on Tuesday. "I wasn't worried about location. It was more about extension. I was pretty close to the zone with all of them."

Buchholz has noticed improvement even while playing long toss.

"I can actually throw a ball with some effort rather than being scared to throw it," Buchholz said. "That's one significant change that I feel. It's definitely progressing."

Manager John Farrell watched the early portion of Buchholz's session.

"He's following the progression as it is outlined," Farrell said. "There are no restrictions as far as the intensity with which he's throwing. It's about getting the ball back in his hand and going through the repetitions."

Despite Buchholz's prolonged absence after he compiled a 9-0 mark with a 1.71 ERA through 12 starts, the Red Sox went into Friday's game with a two-game lead in the American League East.

"It tells me we have a deep and talented team," Farrell said. "We've had other guys step up in his absence. We've had contributions from a lot of guys, whether it's a pitcher or a position player."

Thornton thinks Rios will help Rangers' playoff bid

ARI@BOS: Thornton leaves in eighth with an injury

KANSAS CITY -- When Red Sox reliever Matt Thornton learned Friday that former White Sox teammate Alex Rios was heading to the Rangers, Thornton's initial reaction was that Texas had improved its chances in the American League playoff chase.

"Alex is an underrated player," said Thornton, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. "He brings a lot to the baseball field. He gets a bad rap sometimes, and I don't know why. I love Alex and I think he's a great ballplayer. He gets bashed for his defense, but I've seen him make some great plays. He's a tough at-bat for a pitcher and there's no doubt he's going to help them out."

While Thornton and Jake Peavy have been re-energized since joining the Red Sox from the floundering White Sox, Thornton anticipates that Rios will get a similar boost in joining Texas.

"You want to win," said Thornton. "Now he's going to a team that has a chance."

If the first-place Red Sox win the American League East, the Rios factor can't impact them in terms of a playoff spot. It could only affect Boston if the Red Sox and Rangers are battling each other in a Wild Card scenario.

"It's just about winning as many games as we can," Thornton said.