Notes: Timlin ready for ... whatever

Notes: Timlin ready for ... whatever

ANAHEIM -- When the Red Sox arrive in Kansas City for the start of a three-game series on Tuesday night, the bullpen will undergo another transition. Curt Schilling, gearing up for his Thursday night return to the rotation, will no longer be available out of the 'pen, and Keith Foulke appears to be at least a week away from being activated.

Does that mean Mike Timlin will be the closer until further notice? Well, sort of, but not exactly. Expect Timlin to do a little multitasking, at times serving as the setup man and the closer in the same game.

"Again, the only reason I'm being a little careful about what I'm saying," said manager Terry Francona, "is not because of the way he handles the responsibility [of closing], but that he's so important [in the setup role]. He's been such an anchor, I know before I got here, but while I've been here, it's a given. And in this game, that's a real big plus."

If the Red Sox want Timlin to work some multi-inning outings, he's more than up for it. He certainly looked as if he could handle that load on Sunday, when he sent down six of the seven men he faced while picking up the win against the Angels.

"I told him if I need to pitch two innings, I'll do that," said Timlin. "We'll spread it out. I'm willing to do whatever we need to get done. My job is to pitch when I'm told to pitch. That's the bottom line."

With 119 career saves, Timlin knows full well that he can get the job done in a closing capacity. So, yes, it does serve as an annoyance to him that there might be some people wondering if he is capable of being a closer.

"I want to be able to prove to these guys that I can do what I do. If it adds a little bit more responsibility or burden, I'll do that," said Timlin. "I've got the sense a lot of people don't think that I can do the job. It's a motivating factor."

One thing Timlin doesn't get caught up in is having the title as a closer. He considers himself a relief pitcher who gets outs with the game on the line, pure and simple.

"Honestly, this closer title thing is really not a huge deal to me," Timlin said. "I mean, I like finishing games. If [Foulke] is absent, someone's got to be there."

That someone could be Timlin for the immediate future.

Hansen on way? Speculation continues to be rampant that the Red Sox will call up 2005 first-round draft pick Craig Hansen, the prized right-hander out of St. John's, in time for the three-game series against the Royals.

Per usual, Francona wasn't about to speculate on roster moves before they happen.

"You can't do that," said Francona. "That just doesn't make sense to do that."

If Hansen is called up, he could enhance the depth in the bullpen, helping out Timlin, Mike Myers, Chad Bradford, Jeremi Gonzalez and perhaps Jonathan Papelbon.

Hansen pitched in back-to-back outings for Double-A Portland on Friday and Saturday, working scoreless outings in both cases.

Schilling's final tuneup: Schilling pitched the final inning in Sunday's game, ending his stint as the closer by giving up three hits and a run, but, ultimately, getting the job done. He will start against the Royals on Thursday night.

Schilling made 22 appearances in relief, posting a 5.18 ERA and converting nine of 11 save opportunities.

Though the experiment had a couple of valleys, it was a success for the most part. The Red Sox went 22-13 during Schilling's stint in the bullpen.

"We won a lot of games, more than we lost, when I was down there," Schilling said. "That was the goal. I went down there to try and help seal a leak and to patch a hole. I'd like to think I did that for the most part. I certainly didn't pitch as well as I would have liked. But we played good baseball and we won games when I was down there, so it all worked out."

Schilling moving back to his old role obviously made news in the Yankees' universe, as well.

"It gives them more depth in their rotation," Yankees manager Joe Torre said in his briefing with the New York media. "They certainly have had a quality bullpen with great matchup people, so it looks like until Foulke comes back, Terry is just going to decide on a day-to-day basis. Schilling is a dominant pitcher like [Randy Johnson]. He's somebody you can hang your hat on."

Wake aims for Friday: Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has shown improvement each day since taking that line drive off the right shin in the opener of the four-game series in Anaheim. Francona thought that Wakefield would be fine to pitch on Friday night, when the Red Sox open up their homestand against the Tigers.

"He's doing OK. Yesterday it was a lot less noticeable limp," Francona said. "Again, we've got him lined up on Friday. We can back it up to Saturday without even having to adjust the rotation. I don't think there will be a problem there. I told him, if there is, we'll make an adjustment. I don't want him to pitch if he shouldn't."

Foulke to ease back in: Foulke will resume his throwing program on Tuesday in Kansas City. Trot Nixon put a temporary wrench into the pitcher's comeback by drilling a line drive off Foulke's right elbow during a simulated game on Friday.

Foulke will at least play catch on Tuesday, and perhaps be ready to throw another simulated game on Thursday.

On deck: Left-hander David Wells (9-6, 4.70 ERA) will face righty Zack Greinke (3-14, 6.02 ERA) on Tuesday night, when the Red Sox make their only visit of the season to Kansas City.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.