LAA@BOS: Buchholz leaves game with neck stiffness

BALTIMORE -- Friday was hardly a milestone day for Clay Buchholz in his recovery from a strained bursa sac, but it was progress nonetheless.

The Red Sox's ace right-hander played catch at varying distances, getting out to about 100 feet.

The club remains unsure when they will get Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) back.

"Continued progression in terms of intensity and volume," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "A good day."

What are the Red Sox looking for before Buchholz gets back on a mound?

"Well we're hopeful with each session there is gradual increases in intensity," Farrell said. "And I think until he feel like he's cut the ball loose from those distances without any restriction or holding anything back, that's the main goal of that phase. At that point, that's when we look to get him on the mound."

Iglesias staying upbeat during prolonged slump

TB@BOS: Red Sox pad lead on Iglesias' two-run single

BALTIMORE -- Jose Iglesias started for the 32nd game in a row Friday night, and it was hard to tell the Red Sox rookie shortstop was in his first prolonged slump of the season.

As manager John Farrell held court with reporters in the dugout, Iglesias was a few feet away, joking around with some of his teammates.

Iglesias has come along way from the prospect who was pinch-hit for in the middle of an at-bat last year by former manager Bobby Valentine to one who is encouraged to go to the post every single day, even if his results have dropped off of late.

"I feel good; I feel healthy," said Iglesias.

And what about the continued confidence from his manager?

"It's big," Iglesias said. "You're not going to feel 100 percent or you're not going to get results every single time or every single game. We've faced pretty good pitchers. It's still a long way to go."

In 66 at-bats since July 3, Iglesias is batting .197 with a .250 on-base percentage. In his first 135 at-bats of the season, he hit .435.

"Like I say, I'll continue to work and continue to get better and get back on track where I was," said Iglesias. "If I don't do it with the bat, I'll do it defensively or baserunning. Anything I can do. You always do something to help this team win."

Iglesias doesn't doubt that there's been some dropoff to his mechanics or swing during the slump, but he knows it's nothing drastic.

"Sometimes when you get fatigued or you get tired, you kind of change little things," Iglesias said. "Like I said, I feel pretty good. I've already talked with my coaches and we're moving forward. I feel great today."

Are pitchers working Iglesias differently?

"Not really," Iglesias said. "It's just sometimes I swing at balls out of the strike zone and get behind in the count a lot. Like I say, we've faced a lot of good pitchers in the last two to three weeks. They've been throwing the ball well. You try to battle when the pitchers are like that, there's not much you can do."

"And with Iggy, still think there's a competitive spirit in his at-bats, even though the numbers of late have not been anything like they were for the better part of the first month and a half," said Farrell. "Some of what you have to do is take the good with the bad and continue on."

The prospect of playing every day in a pennant race is something that is clearly exhilarating for Iglesias.

"It's fun to be here and help this team win, to face the American League, some of the best pitchers in baseball," Iglesias said. "We're just moving forward, trying to get this team to the playoffs. Like I said, I feel good. This is a great group. We're moving forward and hoping to win this series."

Morales, Wilson nearing rehab assignments

BOS@PHI: Morales escapes bases-loaded jam in fourth

BALTIMORE -- Considering all the injuries the Red Sox have had to the bullpen, they could use some reinforcements.

Toward that end, left-hander Franklin Morales and right-hander Alex Wilson will start Minor League rehab assignments for Triple-A Pawtucket in the coming days.

Morales, who was a swing man for the Red Sox earlier this season, is coming back as a reliever and could be an important piece with Andrew Miller done for the season.

Morales, who last pitched for the Red Sox on June 22 and has been out with a left pectoralis strain, will throw an inning for Pawtucket on Monday. Wilson, who has been out since July 9 with a right thumb strain, will get his inning Tuesday.

Wilson figures to make it back to the Red Sox sooner because he's been out for less time.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Daniel Bard, who has been besieged by control problems the last two seasons, hasn't pitched in a game for Double-A Portland since May 15. He continues to do side work, and manager John Farrell expressed hope that Bard will pitch in some type of game action before the season ends.

"I would hope so. I would hope even for his own mindset of once this year ends, at least having some recent activity to evaluate on his own behalf," Farrell said. "He was back throwing bullpens after getting over the abdominal strain. To what effort level, to how close to game ready, I don't have that."

• With catcher David Ross still out for at least a couple of more weeks as he battles back from his second concussion, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been a near fixture in the starting lineup. Farrell knows he has to keep an eye on Saltalamacchia's playing time, given how much of a toll catching can take.

"I think Sunday gives us a natural break in the schedule -- day game after night game, as one," said Farrell. "[Thursday] night's [rainout], obviously being another. We know that we're in a stretch now with Monday being taken away from us from an off-day standpoint, we'll monitor that close. I think of late, he's still held some very good durability.

"Physically he's like most catchers at this time of the year. He's banged up a little bit. He's done a very good job of handling our staff and leading guys through a given game plan, so that's not to say we won't pick spots. Three right-handers going this series, we'd like to have the bat in there, but Sunday's game probably trumps that."

• Because of Thursday's rainout being postponed until Monday, the Red Sox will get the rare chance to face Rays ace lefty David Price twice in the span of six days. Price fired a complete-game gem against Boston on Wednesday at Fenway.

"I think the thing that stands out is that you've got familiarity," said Farrell. "He executed tremendously a couple of nights ago. We know that he's a damn good pitcher and we're looking forward to the challenge on Monday."

• Felix Doubront, who pitched well against Price on Wednesday but came up short, will draw the rematch.