BALTIMORE -- His progress slowed, Clay Buchholz is still not 100 percent and won't throw a bullpen Sunday, thus taking him out of Tuesday's start.
"It's getting better every day," said Buchholz. "(But) I'm sort of at a point now where if I was to get off a mound, I think I would regress because I haven't really cut loose with anything playing catch, just for that reason. I don't want to take a step back. I'd rather be at a point where I'm comfortable letting loose.''
Buchholz last pitched on June 8 and felt some stiffness in his neck while twisting to make an awkward fielding play on the mound.
"From the beginning, I wasn't really worried about it being something that was going to take a really long time," said Buchholz. "It's definitely going to take longer than I wanted it to take, either way. I'm trying to be as smart as I can with it, keeping everybody in the loop with how it feels, the progression each day. That's where I'm at right now.''
The Sox first pushed him back from starting Friday, then Sunday and had settled on him pitching one of the two games in Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against Tampa Bay.
But that was dependent on Buchholz being able to throw a full side session Sunday here in Camden Yards. When he threw some Saturday, it became clear that he wasn't ready to proceed.
"Clay threw today and feels a little bit better than he did [Friday], but not to the point where he's going to throw a bullpen [Sunday]," said John Farrell. "With the benefit of the off-day, we can keep guys on turn with Felix [Doubront] going on Tuesday and [Ryan Dempster] on Wednesday and stay on turn from there."
The other start will be made by either Rubby De La Rosa or Alfredo Aceves and will be largely dependent on how much De La Rosa is used either Saturday or Sunday.
"But,'' added Farrell, "we also have to factor in Clay's situation. If we get to Tuesday and there's still no improvement, is there a roster move to be made at that time to replace him? That would leave us with a need for a starter on Saturday in Detroit. So we've got a couple of moving parts right now.''
Farrell said Buchholz doesn't feel well enough to get on the mound Sunday without fear of a setback "or irritating the trap muscle that he's feeling [the discomfort] in.''
The manager emphasized that there's no pain or soreness in the AC joint, which sidelined Buchholz last month.
"That's cleared up,'' said Farrell. "There's nothing there. It's more in the trap muscle, up near the neck and it's restricting him from greater intensity.''
On Tuesday, Buchholz will have gone 10 days since his last start, meaning the Sox are getting close to having to make a decision about putting Buchholz on the disabled list in a retroactive move.
"Clay's well aware of that,'' said Farrell. "We just had a chance to talk about where our threshold might be to make a decision. The bottom line is, we're not going to put him out there until we go through the normal buildup and make sure that he's in a safe place physically.''
Buchholz is hoping a stint on the DL won't be necessary.
"I hope it can be avoided," said Buchholz. "But if not, the team has to do what it has to do....if that was the case, it would be retroactive, so I wouldn't be on the DL for an extended period of time.''