BOSTON -- The defending World Series champion Red Sox suffered another blow to their pitching staff when it was announced that ace right-hander Curt Schilling will be placed on the 15-day disabled list later this week with a mild bone bruise on his right ankle.
The news came just one day after the Sox learned they would be without left-hander David Wells for at least the next month. Wells suffered a sprain of his right foot. But the attention immediately shifted to Schilling on Wednesday.
"It's slightly above the area where he had surgery last year," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "He'll be going on the DL, not today, but he'll be going on the DL. He'll be in a boot and rest it for two weeks. Our doctors think that will clear it up and he'll be able to resume pitching."
Schilling said he suffered the injury in the sixth inning of his last start on a pitch to Travis Lee, which was Saturday's 6-5 loss at Tropicana Field against the Devil Rays.
"I knew when I threw the pitch, I had done something. My initial thought was maybe I just dislodged it or broke some scar tissue," said Schilling. "It didn't really improve. I think it was the hardest pitch I had thrown all year, and I was really trying to reach back and throw the ball. I think I got there, and I felt it."
The six-time All-Star had made three starts in 2005 after starting the season late because of right ankle surgery that took place on Nov. 9, 2004. Epstein couldn't be sure if last year's ankle complications were related to Schilling's latest injury.
"I asked our doctor that, and he said it could be indirectly related in that general area has been through a lot, with a major surgery and rehab," Epstein said. "It may be more susceptible to a small bone bruise like this, and all the more reason to rest it instead of letting it get worse. The whole area has been through a lot."
With all that Schilling's ankle has been through over the last year, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what has caused what.
"It's not part of the surgery. It's just a stress, reaction bone-bruise type thing," Schilling said. "The way it was explained to me, the ankle bone was just not ready to take the force that I put on it the other day. And we got this out of it."
The Red Sox, who were rained out on Wednesday, are off on Thursday and will make a roster move before Friday's game in Texas. Tim Wakefield, who was supposed to pitch Wednesday, will occupy the slot Schilling had for Friday night.
Schilling was having a rough time of it in his return, going 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA.
While Schilling won't be able to do any kind of pitching for the next two weeks, he will try and maximize his time away from the mound.
"He's getting together with our training staff and medical staff to develop a pain-free and thorough cardio program that will allow him to use the two weeks to his advantage and get in really good shape," said Epstein. "Depending on how the bruise feels, he may or may not be able to play catch throughout it, which would decrease the amount of time he'd need after the two weeks to pitch in a game for us."
Curt Schilling / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Because his typical winter workout program was completely ruined by the ankle surgery, Schilling conceded that his cardio work suffered, allowing him to put on some extra weight.
"That's why he's making it a point to use the two weeks so it's not a lost two weeks and he can use it to his advantage and improve his conditioning," Epstein said. "Again, he didn't have the luxury of working out on it this winter."
Neither Schilling nor the Red Sox thought, even in hindsight, that he came back too soon from surgery.
"I didn't feel like I did, I really didn't," said Schilling. "We talked early in spring, and I had optimism that things would work out. I realized I wasn't going to be ready Opening Day and I was going to be ready when I was ready. I felt like I threw much better in March than I did in April at times."
The bruise, though it didn't become apparent to Schilling until Saturday's fastball to Lee, at least answered some questions to the pitcher as to why he was having such a hard time commanding his fastball.
"A lot of things that were really confusing me in the four games that I pitched, counting the rehab, any questions got answered for me based on what I was trying to figure out, why things were happening and couldn't explain it," Schilling said. "This kind of makes a little bit more sense to me why things were happening."
Despite all he's been through over the last several months with his ankle, Schilling promised not to let the setback dampen his spirits, instead vowing that it will increase his resolve.
"Initially, it was very tough. But I've had a day to mope," Schilling said. "It is what it is. I can't do anything about it now than put everybody together that I've been working with over the last five or six months and figure out how I'm going to come out of this as best as I possibly can in two weeks."
Schilling feels that the next few weeks will be a pivotal test for the Sox as they go at it without two of their most proven pitchers.
"It's an early gut check, no question," said Schilling. "But I don't doubt for a second that we have the character and the talent to do what we have to do. Guys are going to have to get the job done. We're going to have to be consistent. This is a league founded on offense. So it comes down to pitching with everybody. We've lost two starters. It doesn't mean somebody can't step up and do the job."
When the Red Sox go to Texas this weekend, Schilling will be with them, trying to help the team with his mind instead of his arm.
"There's no reason for me to stay here," Schilling said. "I feel like I can still help with pitcher's meetings and help Matt [Clement] and Bronson [Arroyo] and Wake."
For weeks, Sox manager Terry Francona has been asked by reporters who would come out of the rotation once rehabbing right-hander Wade Miller came off the disabled list. Each time, Francona pointed out that the Red Sox would be lucky if they actually had to make that decision. As it turns out, they've had a run of bad luck this week. But now, they'll move forward.
"You never have enough depth," said Epstein. "But with [John] Halama, and Miller soon enough, ready to step in, maybe we can weather the storm. In the meantime, we're going to call on guys from Triple-A and we're confident they can do a good job for us. This is not an ideal situation. It's never completely unforeseen that you might have a couple of pitchers go down. Having them both go down in 24 hours makes it seem pretty dramatic, but we can withstand it."
Last year, Sox right fielder Trot Nixon spent a large part of the season on the shelf with injuries. Now he is healthy and is one of several players who will try and keep the Sox going while Schilling and Wells recover.
"That's baseball," said Nixon. "You hate to see two of our horses go down. We still need to keep focused on what we need to do."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.