07/03/07 12:30 AM ET
Notes: Schilling has throwing session
Veteran begins first steps toward return to Boston rotation
By Alex McPhillips / MLB.com
First, Schilling lobbed 35 throws at 60 feet with Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell in front of the right-field warning track. Then he had a lengthy chat with team medical director Dr. Thomas Gill, trainer Paul Lessard, assistant trainer Mike Reinold and Farrell before returning to the Fenway Park clubhouse.
Schilling has been sidelined since taking a June 18 loss in Atlanta with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder.
"Well, everything went according to plan," Farrell said. "I think it's important to term the throwing program today as an additional exercise -- inside the other strengthening work that he's going through."
For four or five days, Schilling will continue to throw on flat ground. Then, during the All-Star break and continuing through next week, Schilling will initiate his long-toss program, allowing him to proceed more aggressively.
Monday's session was merely a starting point for his rehabilitation, which, for now, will consist mostly of range-of-motion exercises.
"This is a matter of just making sure his arm is staying in the proper range of motion," Farrell said. "And really as part of the foundation for his strength going forward."
After the June 18 loss, many observers, including Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, noted a drop in the velocity of Schilling's fastball, from its normal 91-92 miles per hour to the mid-80s.
"The idea is to build him up," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Not wait the time we did and then kind of artificially feel good for a couple of days and then go backwards. ... And he'll fight us the whole way, and we'll do what we think is right because we need him. We want him desperately to be the guy that, when he takes that mound, you know what you're getting and you can match up with anybody in the league."
Lugo returns: Slumping shortstop Julio Lugo made his first start of the series after being used primarily as a pinch-runner against Texas. The strategy went bad on Saturday, when Lugo was caught stealing in the eighth inning of an eventual 5-4 loss.
When asked about pinch-running Lugo, one of the fastest runners on the team, on Sunday, Francona rebutted the idea that he would have denied him a second chance.
"For me, that would've been a horrible mistake on my part," Francona said. "Here's a guy that has stolen 20 out of 20 bases, made a mistake, and I'm going to put him in the penalty box in an obvious situation where you need a runner? That would've been a horrendous mistake on my part."
Returning to the leadoff spot for the first time in a month on Monday, Lugo walked in the first inning. Before the game, he said he felt "optimistic" about taking the field again.
"You have to be," Lugo said. "I want to get back in there."
Added Lugo, "You have to be optimistic. To make it to the big leagues, you have to be positive."
Francona said he sensed some fan pressure to continue to start utility infielder Alex Cora at shortstop. Cora has cooled down to .282 after a hot start, but his .216 June still outpaced Lugo's .089 average in 79 at-bats during the last month.
"I don't know if it's an adage or a feeling, but you can't manage like a fan," Francona said. "It's not always easy. Its not always perfect. I admit that. But sometimes you take a step back, and then you go forward."
Youkilis sits: First baseman Kevin Youkilis was scratched from the starting lineup after batting practice on Monday with tightness in his left quadriceps.
He insisted that he had been playing with the injury "for a couple of weeks," since the team's first West Coast road trip in June.
"It wasn't [batting practice]," Youkilis said. "Nothing happened in BP. It's just one of those decisions [from] manager and training staff."
Youkilis plans to play through the rest of the week, starting Tuesday, and then rest again during the All-Star break.
Ellsbury starts again: For the third straight night, rookie Jacoby Ellsbury started in center field ahead of Coco Crisp, who continued to recover from a sprained thumb.
Francona said that Crisp will play on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, but did not elaborate in what capacity. It is likely that Crisp will start in center field.
"The thing is, he did great during BP," Francona said. "Putting his glove on is the only time he really feels it. I told Coco I'd call him in the morning just to make sure he comes through BP and is doing all his work and doesn't feel any after-effects."
Ellsbury, meanwhile, did his best to head off any threats to his newfound big-league playing time.
In the first inning of Monday's game, he beat out an infield single as Rangers second baseman Desi Relaford frantically tried to get a handle on a slow bouncer.
After walking in his second at-bat, Ellsbury swiped second for his first career steal. Then on a wild pitch, he took not one but two bases, scoring from second and prompting catcher Jason Varitek to rave about the "lightning in his feet."
Before the game, Red Sox reporters were buzzing about Ellsbury's speed, amid reports that his 40-yard dash time had once been clocked in the jaw-dropping 4.2-second range.
"I've run a 4.2 40," Ellsbury said. "And a [60-yard dash] as well, 6.29, [at] scout day in college."
When asked if he had improved upon that time in the two years since the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Ellsbury said, "I think from the training I've been doing in the offseason, speed training ... I don't know if I've gotten faster, but I've definitely maintained that or [exceeded it]."
On deck: After a four-game marathon against Texas, the Red Sox are done with the Rangers for the 2007 season. Now they'll play an opponent from their own division for the first time: the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who had lost seven straight entering Monday. Daisuke Matsuzaka, fresh off a month in which he recorded a 1.59 ERA, will get the call against 23-year-old Tampa lefty Scott Kazmir. A year ago on July 3, Kazmir pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout against the Red Sox.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.