ST. PETERSBURG -- Clay Buchholz felt improvement in his neck on Monday, two days after he had to leave his last start early, but the righty is still unsure if he will be able to take the ball Friday night against the Orioles for his next scheduled start.
"Again, I told them that I'd rather take care of this now," Buchholz said. "If that's pushing a start and mixing and matching a little bit, then we'll go with it that way. I still haven't really talked to the medical guys and [manager] John [Farrell] about what we're going to do moving forward. I think these three days here in Tampa are going to be the feeling out process, and we'll go from there."
Wednesday will be the key day. If Buchholz is healthy enough to make his side session that day, he could be ready to pitch Friday.
If not, the Red Sox might try to push his start back a couple of days rater than skip him entirely.
"We'll take the same approach we did last time," Farrell said. "Once everything is cleared up, that's when he's going to be a go."
By last time, Farrell is referring to the right AC joint injury that forced Buchholz to miss his May 27 start against the Phillies. He missed one turn in the rotation and returned to make his next two starts.
Buchholz thinks his neck injury, which he sustained on an awkward fielding play, is probably related to the AC joint injury.
"I think it's connected somehow," Buchholz said, "and they're so close together. Like I said, haven't really talked to anybody about that today. I guess we'll feel around today and see how everything feels and then go from there."
Buchholz has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, going 9-0 with a Major League-leading 1.71 ERA in 12 starts.
Napoli gets rest as Sox start seven-game trip
ST. PETERSBURG -- For just the third time this season, Mike Napoli was not in Boston's starting lineup. Napoli is healthy, and manager John Farrell simply wanted to give the first baseman a rest.
The Red Sox are playing the next three games on turf before going to Baltimore for a four-game series. Napoli played all 18 innings in Saturday's doubleheader before playing a day game on Sunday.
"Mike will be back in the lineup tomorrow, and this is coming out of the doubleheader, the three games in two days," said Farrell. "He's been going at it pretty consistently. We felt like it was a chance to get another left-handed bat in there against [Alex] Cobb, which is going to be a tough assignment for us tonight. Our bench allows us to do some of these things and allow guys to get their legs under them and stay fresh."
Mike Carp, who started in place of Napoli at first base and batted sixth, hit a two-run single as part of the Red Sox's six-run first inning. Daniel Nava, who hit an RBI double in the first, batted in Napoli's No. 5 spot.
• As expected, lefty Franklin Morales will get a spot start on Wednesday. The need for another starter arose when the Red Sox were rained out on Friday, forcing both Felix Doubront and Buchholz to pitch in Saturday's doubleheader. This will be the second start of the season for Morales.
• The Red Sox went into Monday's game with six straight quality starts, their longest streak since producing eight straight quality starts from May 22-29, 2011.