- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said Tuesday that he was guilty of pushing too hard to return, which only served to aggravate his shoulder discomfort, and that Dr. James Andrews told him that if he doesn't proceed more cautiously now, he could wind up not pitching at all this season.
"If I do this too quick, I'll be doing this the rest of the year," Buchholz said Tuesday, speaking with reporters for the first time since he was examined by Andrews on Monday in Pensacola, Fla. "I think that's a risk."
Buchholz said there is no timetable, which was echoed later by manager John Farrell in his media session Tuesday afternoon, but implied that it could be as much as a month -- or longer -- before he is back.
"If I don't do this right, he said you can either get four or five starts the last half of the season and hopefully we go to the playoffs and I pitch in the playoffs, or do it wrong and not pitch at all," he said.
Buchholz said he was assured by Andrews that he had no structural damage to his shoulder.
"The rotator cuff looks good, the labrum looks good," Buchholz said. "[Andrews] actually said that being 28 and throwing as many pitches that I have over my lifetime, he thought my shoulder looked a lot better than he expected to. That's definitely a good thing for me to hear, takes some weight off my shoulders."
Buchholz has not pitched since June 8, and has pitched only 11 2/3 innings since May 22. Andrews confirmed the diagnosis of bursitis, which is an inflammation of the bursa sac, in his shoulder. Initially, the pain radiated into his neck area, Buchholz said. Now he feels it in his shoulder.
His past two bullpen sessions informed him, he said, that he was not close to being ready to pitch again.
"It wouldn't be fun for me to go out and pitch the way I felt, and that was going 70 percent in the bullpen," he said. "I don't want to imagine what it would feel like at 100 percent."
Buchholz said he made the mistake of trying to increase his workload as soon as he felt good.
"I want to be back more than anybody wants me to be back," he said, "but probably I've been pushing myself a little too much. I think that's the problem I'd run into. I'd feel good for a day or two or three and try to go now, and it'd be like a re-strain, and I had to start from square one again.
"That's what I've been doing for a month and a half, and it's been miserable."
Buchholz is back at a point where he said he is throwing at "moderate intensity" from 90 feet.
"When I get comfortable, when I'm at 90 feet and crow-hop and let a ball go as hard as I want to and be OK with it, that's when the light goes off, 'OK you can throw off the mound easy, get back into flat ground, sim game, rehab.'"
Farrell stressed that the team will proceed carefully with Buchholz and outlined the hurdles that will need to be cleared before he puts the right-hander back on the mound.
"The one thing that's been consistent throughout this is we've tried to progress as Clay has tolerated. That won't change," Farrell said. "What we're looking to achieve first is that he throws aggressively off of flat ground and at 90 feet before we would incorporate the angle of the mound.
"That's why when questions were asked yesterday, 'Is there a target date?' it's kind of hard to pinpoint that. So we look at this ... in phases: the reconditioning, the strength gains from a throwing standpoint, to then incorporating the mound, to incorporating ups and downs, to a simulated game and then ultimately a rehab start. But this will all be determined on Clay's tolerance and how he responds to the increase in intensity."
Is Buchholz confident he'll pitch again this season?
"I don't know if you'll believe me or not because I said I was pretty confident that I was going to pitch a month and a half ago," he said. "I feel pretty good about it. I know the steps I have to take and not push myself over the edge. I know I feel pretty good about it."
So does Farrell.
"I think we're still very optimistic he's going to pitch for us," he said. "To be determined on the date."