Notes: Foulke to return Thursday

Notes: Foulke to return Thursday

BOSTON -- While Red Sox closer Keith Foulke remains a work in progress in his imminent return from left knee surgery, the team's braintrust has seen enough to make the assumption that the right-hander will be activated prior to Thursday's game against the Devil Rays.

Foulke will make his third and final Minor League tuneup for Class A Lowell on Tuesday, then return to the active roster for the first time since July 4.

"I think he was encouraged," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He'll come in [Monday] and do his work, and go back and pitch an inning [Tuesday]. The 31st is a [workout] day, then he'll be activated on [Sept. 1]."

There's a strong likelihood Foulke will work a couple of outings in a non-closing role before reclaiming the job he has excelled in for most of his career, but struggled with earlier this season. In the meantime, the Red Sox have an experienced late-inning reliever in Mike Timlin to hold down the save opportunities.

Make no mistake about it, Foulke is eager to get back to pitching at a high level. He also wants the chance to be able to stand on the mound, just as he did last year, in the deciding game of the World Series.

"I've got plenty to prove. I don't want to be a one-time [postseason hero]," said Foulke. "Even before last year, there were points where I struggled during the playoffs. I've got plenty to prove, even if it's not to people out there. I have some things to prove to [myself]. The day I have nothing left to prove, you will never see me again. That's my philosophy."

Back to the short term, Foulke was displeased with his first rehab outing, but felt better about the way he threw the ball on Sunday. Well, at least as pleased as a perfectionist will ever be.

"[My] velocity was down and command wasn't as sharp as I wanted it to be," said Foulke. "I'm not out there to fool myself. If I don't make my pitches, I don't make my pitches. It's one of those things where, hopefully, a couple of more times on the mound and I'll be sharp again. Saturday didn't go very well, I wasn't real happy at all. But yesterday, I went out and made some major adjustments, and I was a lot closer to where I want to be."

Foulke admitted that his knee woes left him too weak to get his normal push on his delivery, which might have impacted his velocity. He'd like to get his familiar zip back.

"Maybe I'm just getting too old -- I don't know what the deal is," said Foulke. "A few years back, I was a 90-93 [mph] guy consistently, that's when I was dominating. That's where I want to be back to. Hopefully, over the next month or so, we can get back there and keep working towards next year, and keep playing and get back to where I want to be."

Red Sox claim Harville: Looking for all the bullpen help they can get, the Red Sox claimed right-hander Chad Harville off waivers from the Astros prior to Monday's game.

Harville is 0-2 with a 4.46 ERA in 37 appearances for the Astros this season. But he has pitched well recently, allowing just two runs in 15 1/3 innings since July 17.

The 28-year-old Harville is 4-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 135 career appearances. There was no immediate word on when Harville would be placed on the active roster.

Miller getting re-acclimated: Right-hander Wade Miller threw off the mound for the first time since going on the disabled list, though it was just a brief session.

"I wouldn't even call it a bullpen [session]," said Miller. "Just getting used to throwing downhill again."

Miller said that his shoulder felt fine.

No longer overlooked: The Red Sox clearly won't be looking past the Devil Rays during this four-game series, though they've typically handled Tampa Bay over the years. The Devil Rays are playing some of their best ball in franchise history over the last few weeks.

"Since the All-Star break, they're one of the best teams in baseball," Francona said. "They've gotten real good pitching. They've got good hitting. They've always had speed, they've always had athleticism. I'm sure with a team that hasn't won, when you start winning, you start playing with more confidence. Hopefully, coming in here doesn't help that. This is a tough place to play."

Eye on the storm: As Hurricane Katrina ripped through Missisippi and Louisiana on Monday, Red Sox rookie Jonathan Papelbon couldn't help but keep his eyes glued to the weather reports.

Papelbon, who is getting married in New Orleans in November, has family in Mississippi and Louisiana.

The right-hander stayed up through the wee hours of Monday morning watching the news.

On deck: Right-hander Curt Schilling (5-6, 6.89 ERA) will make his second start since moving back to the rotation when he faces the Devil Rays on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay counters with lefty Scott Kazmir, who is 7-9 with a 4.12 ERA.

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