<
>

Team doctor doesn't rule out return in May

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling's protective boot was removed from
his injured right ankle Friday, and Boston's team doctor said he
was "very encouraged" by the pitcher's progress.

Dr. Thomas Gill didn't put a timetable on when Schilling might
pitch again for the Red Sox but said the right-hander has stayed in
good condition. He outlined a series of steps for Schilling that
include wearing a brace under a normal shoe, throwing from 120
feet, throwing from a mound and pitching in a simulated game.

When asked if he was ruling out the possibility that Schilling
would pitch for the Red Sox in May, Gill said, "I'm very honestly
not ruling him out for anything. ... It is a day-by-day type of
thing."

Schilling was injured April 23 when he bruised a bone in his
right ankle while pitching at Tampa Bay. At that time, general
manager Theo Epstein said Schilling would wear a removable boot for
two weeks.

He had surgery on the same ankle last November after pitching
with a different injury to it in the AL Championship Series and
World Series.

"It's tough to be able to say" whether the current injury is
related to that, Gill said.

"Curt's actually doing a little bit better," Gill said after
examining him before Friday night's game against Atlanta. "His
shoulder feels great. You always worry about when someone's been in
a boot that it's going to mess up their mechanics a little bit or
that could potentially cause some shoulder issues.

"But there's been none of that with him. He's been working
extremely hard with his conditioning. He's lost some weight during
the program, so he's really staying in great shape."

In three starts this season, Schilling is 1-2 with an 8.15 ERA.

"These are the types of injuries that there's really no
specific timetable for," Gill said. "We're basically going to go
on his symptoms and how he progresses. Obviously, it's something we
want to be very careful about, given the history last year."