Notes: Schilling eyes July return

Notes: Schilling eyes July return

BOSTON -- Sporting a black cushioned boot on his right heel to protect his ankle, Curt Schilling took to the Red Sox bullpen mound Monday for a brief tossing session.

"My goal is to be back before the All-Star Game," the Associated Press reported him saying before Monday's 8-1 loss to the Orioles.

Tests to determine how much strength has returned to the ankle were postponed to Tuesday because of the Memorial Day holiday. Schilling is expected to try on various shoes to find the most athletic and comfortable fit for his ankle.

"With this shoe I can balance like I did before I was hurt," he said.

The Red Sox ace is 1-2 with an 8.15 ERA and went on the disabled list April 29, retroactive to April 24.

In November, Schilling underwent a three-hour procedure that reconstructed the ruptured sheath that houses the peroneal tendon in his right ankle. He started the season on the 15-day disabled list and returned to action on April 13. After making three starts, Schilling reinjured the ankle on a fastball to Travis Lee in a loss on April 23.

Olerud makes Fenway debut: John Olerud can thank Rodrigo Lopez for starting at first base in his Red Sox debut at Fenway Park.

The Baltimore right-hander has had the number of several Red Sox regulars, including Kevin Millar.

Entering Monday, Millar had just five hits in 28 at-bats against Lopez. Olerud, on the other hand, was 7-for-15 (.467).

"Olerud has a good history with him," Sox skipper Terry Francona said. "Lopez has been tough on a lot of our guys, and Kevin is one of them. It just seemed to me to make sense.

"If we're going to sit a guy, it's going to be on a night where the guy who's plays for him has a real good chance."

Despite dropping the series opener, Olerud went 2-for-4 with a double.

There are two reasons Francona is rooting for both Millar and Olerud to have success simultaneously -- the added offensive option will clearly give him more options in certain game situations. And secondly, the Boston manager will have to make no excuses for giving both playing time.

"I'm hoping they both get hot," Francona said. "I saw something that said something like, 'Olerud and Millar is better than Millar.' That's sort of what I am thinking."

Millar is 5-for-13 with a double in his last three games after collecting just six hits in his previous 39 trips to the plate.

"The harder they throw, the better Millar is," Francona said prior to Monday's game. "I don't think that's any secret."

Then there's the complication of upcoming Interleague play at St. Louis and Chicago's Wrigley Field.

"[David] Ortiz has got to play first," Francona explained. "The idea is to keep guys healthy, and keep guys productive and win as many games as you can."

No Bell-ringing Monday: Mark Bellhorn (2-for-17, .118) was another Red Sox batter who has traditionally struggled against Lopez. So Francona decided Monday was the right time to give him a break from the starting lineup. Ramon Vazquez started in his place and batted ninth.

"There's going to be a day this week where almost everybody won't start a game," Francona said. "The reason is it's in our best interests. So we'll kind of pick and choose."

Second helping: With Monday's game well in hand, Francona decided to try something different to give Bill Mueller the rest of the night off. Vazquez, who went 0-for-4, moved over to third and Kevin Youkilis came off the bench to play second base to begin the eighth, the first time he has played there in his big league career.

And Youkilis didn't have to wait long for a chance. He went to his right smoothly to field a grounder off the bat of Brian Roberts and flipped to Edgar Renteria at second for the final out of the inning in his first chance at the position.

"It's always good to get some action out there," Youkilis said. "For me, it helped out a lot to get a ground ball, reacting and trying to make a play."

The last time Youkilis played second base in a professional game was the 2003 Double-A All-Star Game, when he played all nine innings at the position.

"He's been working over there," Francona said. "I thought it was a good time to get Youk a couple of innings at second. I don't think he's ready to play any games yet where he starts, but I thought it would do him some good to get out there for a couple of innings."

Second look for Mirabelli: Doug Mirabelli had another MRI on Monday on his sprained left wrist. Mirabelli went on the 15-day disabled list after swinging David Ortiz's bat during an at-bat in Oakland on May 18.

On deck: Wade Miller (1-1, 6.16 ERA) takes the hill Tuesday for the first time since suffering his first loss in a Red Sox uniform. Miller lasted just two innings last Thursday and surrendered seven runs in a setback in Toronto. Baltimore counters with right-hander Daniel Cabrera (4-3, 5.30 ERA).

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.