Schilling threw seven shutout innings in his final start for Pawtucket on Tuesday night, striking out four Columbus Clippers and yielding just four hits. Altogether, he completed 15 innings during his Triple-A rehabilitation. The totals: zero runs, zero walks, 18 strikeouts.
What's more: his fastball is back to where it once was, in the low- to mid-90's. And for the first time in years, Schilling is pitching without pain.
"Schill's all set to go Sunday [in Seattle]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He pitched, he pitched again, pitched again, and the ball keeps coming out of his hand like we want it to. It's been very successful. We'll be thrilled to have him back."
"That," said third baseman Mike Lowell, "could be our 'acquisition' at the deadline. That could really help us."
Schilling has not pitched in the Majors since June 18 in Atlanta. He allowed 10 hits and six earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings, and the velocity of his fastball, which hovered around 84 mph, led the Braves' Chipper Jones to openly question his health.
Rotation bump: The return of Schilling and the departure of Kason Gabbard in the deal that netted Gagne occasioned some rotation maneuvering.
Francona could have started Tim Wakefield on regular rest in Gabbard's old slot on Wednesday. But with rubber-armed righty Julian Tavarez available to pitch, Francona opted to give the rotation extra rest. Josh Beckett, who lost to Baltimore on Tuesday, will have five days to prepare for his next start.
"Even [Wakefield] sometimes flies under the radar, because of his style," Francona said. "I think he needed the extra day. He could've done it and he would've done it, but it's in his best interests to give it another day."
Santana to Boston? The notion will surely get hearts pumping in New England. But will Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who hits free agency after the 2008 season, ever pitch for the Red Sox?
David Ortiz, a former teammate of Santana's in Minnesota, sure hopes so.
"Hopefully, we get a chance to make some offers," Ortiz said before Wednesday's game. "That'd be interesting, [to] have him come here, because he would love to be here. I guarantee you that."
"Back to his old boy," Ortiz added with a laugh. "Coming back to his old homeboy."
After the Twins, who sit just 5 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central, marked the non-waiver trade deadline by trading starting second baseman Luis Castillo for prospects, Santana expressed his frustration to the Minnesota Star-Tribune, saying he's "not surprised."
"That's exactly how they are," Santana said, according to the Star-Tribune. "That's why we're never going to go beyond where we've gone."
"They protect their young players," Santana reportedly added. "They protect their organization, their roots, everything. But I guess I won't be a part of it."
Ortiz, who became a superstar in Boston only after the Twins released him, agreed.
"That's how it is over there," Ortiz said. "This guy is a gamer. And I guarantee you he's mad about it, because he plays to win. Every team at this point needs something. So when he sees that they're not getting anything, that kind of gets him mad. Maybe that's why he said what he said."
Will Santana walk?
"Oh, he will," Ortiz said. "I guess he will. First of all, they're not going to pay him what he [deserves]. You know that, everybody knows that, that's not news. Second of all, what he says."
On deck: The Red Sox will close out their series with the Orioles in a rare mid-week day game. On Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET, Wakefield will get the start against Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie was last seen at Fenway Park on Mother's Day, May 13, shutting down Boston for 91 pitches over 8 1/3 innings. After allowing a runner to reach on a dropped ninth-inning pop-up by the catcher, Guthrie was removed for a bullpen that blew a five-run lead. His quick trigger is widely regarded to have cost former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo his job.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.