Schilling makes strong rehab start

Schilling makes strong rehab start

FORT MILL, S.C. -- Curt Schilling entered the game to a standing ovation and departed to another standing "O" as Boston's World Series star completed a successful rehabilitation start for the Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Knights at Knights Stadium.

"This is Red Sox Nation," Schilling said. "There are secrets only Red Sox players know. I felt like I was back in Philadelphia a few days ago."

The season-high crowd of 10,736 included more than one No. 38 Curt Schilling replica jersey.

Schilling threw 78 pitches -- 57 for strikes. Schilling, who pitched for Charlotte in 1988 while in the Orioles' farm system, left the game as the pitcher of record, but Charlotte rallied against three PawSox relievers to take a 5-4 win in the bottom of the ninth inning.

In five innings, Schilling allowed one earned run on five hits. He struck out three and walked only one. The PawSox led, 3-1, when the veteran left the ballgame.

"There was some progression from the first inning through the fifth inning," Schilling noted. "The first two or three innings, I was trying to answer questions ... my own questions. There was much progression in the fourth and fifth innings, as much mentally as physically."

Even his opponents were impressed. Knights catcher Jamie Burke had three of his four hits against Schilling, but he had high praise for the Red Sox hurler.

"He's throwing everything well," Burke said. "I had a couple of bloopers. He fooled me with a split finger (in the third inning). I thought he made good pitches tonight."

"In the last two innings, I tried to relax and pitch," Schilling said. "I feel better than I did yesterday about how I feel. I had forgotten what a three-up, three-down inning felt like." Schilling had one in the fourth.

Schilling believes the good feelings began during warmups. "When I was warming up in the bullpen, I felt phenomenal," he said. "I was moving the ball in and out. I was trying to make small changes. Mechanically, I was trying to force the issue instead of answering questions."

When asked if his good outing would accelerate his rehabilitation work, Schilling said. "I will take stock (tomorrow) and see what happens. I'm leery. It's been almost seven months since I pitched a good game. No matter how mentally strong you feel you are ... at times it is tough to put a positive spin on things."

"I took some good steps today," Schilling added. "There is no pressure from the organization. We are playing well right now. There is more pressure from how hard I am pushing myself."

When asked how many more rehab starts he would need, Schilling was non-committal. His next scheduled start is slated for Monday at Pawtucket's sold-out McCoy Stadium against the same Knights.

Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson was very impressed. "I'm a big fan of Curt Schilling," Johnson said. "I earn a living as a baseball coach, but I gained tremendous enjoyment from watching Curt throw tonight. We were pleased with his efforts. His command got better in the later innings."

David Sherwood is a contributor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.