Mark your calendars: Clay Buchholz could make his first minor league rehab start Sunday.

In the latest stage of his protracted recovery from shoulder inflammation Buchholz threw 46 pitches here yesterday in a three-inning simulated game. The Red Sox’ All-Star right-hander faced righties David Ross Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts and unleashed his full repertoire of pitches even hitting Napoli with a two-seam fastball.

Next step: another bullpen session Friday in Los Angeles after which he could start as soon as Sunday possibly for short-season Single-A Lowell.

And so after three months Buchholz finally can see a light at the end of the rehab tunnel.

“It’s obviously taken a lot longer than I wanted it to or expected it to” Buchholz said before the Red Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Giants. “If everything keeps going as everybody wants it to go my body will be well-rested for an opportunity to help our team make a push here toward the end of the season and get to that postseason.”

Buchholz’ itinerary will be predicated on the bullpen session in Los Angeles but manager John Farrell said there’s a “very real possibility” that he will pitch Sunday. The Sox hope Buchholz will be able to make three starts before the minor league regular season ends on Labor Day weekend.

Most importantly though two aggressive bullpen sessions and a simulated game have given Buchholz the confidence that he isn’t at risk of further injury.

“I think I got over that hump during that first up-and-down bullpen there that I threw” he said. “Obviously you’ve got some things in the back of your head with everything that’s gone on. I think that first step to getting over it is just to let a couple balls go and see how it feels. That’s where we’ve been building up to.”

It’s likely Buchholz will be limited to about three innings and 45-50 pitches in his first minor league start before gradually increasing his workload on his way to the big club.

“I don’t want to go out (in a major league start) on a three-innings 50-pitch limit and get into a game where everything’s feeling good and have to make a tough decision to stay in or come out” Buchholz said. “I definitely want to build up some stamina and obviously throw some more pitches.”

Buchholz hasn’t pitched in a game since June 8.