08/06/07 10:52 PM ET
Notes: Schilling returns to the mound
Right-hander makes first start since June 18 in Atlanta
By Glenn Rabney / Special to MLB.com
Diagnosed with right shoulder tendinitis, Schilling was extremely effective in his three rehab starts with Triple-A Pawtucket, pitching 15 scoreless innings.
While there are no restrictions on how many innings Schilling would go or how many pitches he could throw, manager Terry Francona said that common sense would dictate what happens.
"If he ends an inning that looks like a good point to cut it off, we'll let a reliever start a new inning clean," Francona said.
The main thing Francona said he was going to be looking for was for Schilling to be staying in his delivery.
What the skipper didn't want to see was Schilling having to reach back for something extra in order to just maintain what he's doing.
"If the ball is doing the same thing without the effort," Francona said, "and then the effort starts ramping up in order to get the same result, then it's time to get him out."
The key with Schilling is his arm speed and comfort level. His game feeds off being able to command his fastball and setting up his splitter.
According to Francona, "When he commands his fastball and gets any semblance of a splitter, he has a chance to win any game.
"The more of a split he has, its almost like a security blanket. He knows he can go into it and get a hitter to miss, and his confidence rises."
As for how the team will react to Schilling's return, Francona didn't think that it would have that much of an impact outside of what Schilling is able to contribute on the mound.
In fact, during Schilling's absence, the team was 24-18, with an ERA almost a half-run lower than when he was in the rotation.
"How much you miss a player depends on how well everyone else plays," Francona explained, "And in this case, [Tim Wakefield] kind of caught fire, [Daisuke Matsuzaka] really got hot, and [Kason Gabbard] pitched great, so while we didn't have a great month, it wasn't as glaring as it could have been.
That being said, there is no doubt that Francona and the club are happy to see Schilling back on the mound.
"Having him back, pitching as he's able, we have to be a better team," Francona said, adding that "Our chances of winning are better."
Manny being Manny: Those who were worried about Manny Ramirez need only to look at his numbers to allay those fears. Since the All-Star break, his 27 RBIs is second only to the Yankees' Bobby Abreu for the Major League lead, including knocking in 18 in his last 14 games.
For Francona, the sign that Ramirez was back to his old self was when he fouled off a two-strike fastball in Seattle, putting it down the line.
"When Manny knows that he can get to a good fastball with two strikes," Francona said, "that allows him to get quality pitches, and that makes him very dangerous."
As for what was wrong with Ramirez earlier in the season, Francona thinks that it was just about his comfort level.
"I think he just got himself worried about his hands and where they were in correlation to his swing, and he wasn't comfortable."
Down on the farm: Pawtucket shortstop Jed Lowrie hit a pair of two-run homers, leading the PawSox to a 6-4 victory over the Rochester Red Wings in Triple-A action on Sunday. With the 2-for-4 performance, Lowrie is hitting an even .300 between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket. The home runs were Nos. 10 and 11 and boosted his RBI total to 58. In that same game, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury returned after spending 15 games on the DL with a groin injury to go 3-for-3 with a stolen base, his 37th including stays in Portland, Pawtucket and Boston.
Portland right-hander Justin Masterson struck out 10 Senators as the Sea Dogs defeated Harrisburg 3-2 in 10 innings. Though Masterson did not figure in the decision, he remains undefeated in his last 12 starts between Portland and Class A Lancaster, compiling a 10-0 record with a 1.72 ERA over that span. It was the second time in three starts that he struck out 10.
On deck: Wakefield (13-9, 4.55 ERA) takes the mound on Tuesday as the Red Sox face off against the Angels in the second game of the three-game series in Anaheim. Joe Saunders (5-0, 3.10) will pitch for the Angels in a 10:05 p.m. ET start.
Glenn Rabney is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.