BOSTON -- In an encouraging development, Red Sox medical director Thomas Gill announced before Friday's game that ace Curt Schilling will no longer have to wear the protective right boot over his ailing right ankle.
Schilling has been wearing the boot since going on the disabled list with a stress reaction on April 27. Now that he's coming out of the boot, he can get back on a throwing program and start inching toward a return to the active roster, though the Sox have no timetable in that regard.
"We're going to have him progress with his throwing," said Gill. "The good news is his shoulder feels great. 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 during the whole process and doing a great job."
Gill didn't think it would do any good at this point to estimate when Schilling might be ready to reclaim his spot in the rotation.
"No, 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 have to be very careful about, given his history last year. It was a very, very complicated ankle problem. He's gotten all the treatment he needs. It just takes time."
Clearly, Schilling has made progress since his exam nine days ago, when Gill decided that the boot needed to stay on.
"He didn't have any tenderness over the area of the previous surgery and it was actually much improved in that area," said Gill. "So he is making progress. Now it's just a question of getting the strength back to where he's going to be comfortable. He's not the type of guy that can go half speed."
Schilling will start with long toss and go from there.
"When he can throw off the mound without pain, you increase his number of pitches," Gill said. "Once he can do that, he'll start getting back in a simulated game type of environment."
Gill was asked to rate Schilling's progress on a scale of 1 to 10. Instead, Gill responded with two words.
"Very encouraged," said the doctor.
Schilling, coming off Nov. 9 ankle surgery, began the season on the disabled list. He came back on April 13 and made three starts before reinjuring the ankle on a fastball to Travis Lee in a loss on April 23.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.