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Schilling takes step forward in rehab

Schilling takes step forward in rehab

OAKLAND -- There is a carrot hanging out there for Curt Schilling, one that the right-hander can practically taste amid the tedious nature of his rehab program.

Assuming there are no setbacks, Schilling will step on a pitcher's mound on June 6 and fire what Red Sox manager Terry Francona referred to as an "easy side" session.

Not that there's been anything easy about Schilling's return from a right shoulder/biceps injury that has prevented him from throwing even one pitch in anger since Game 2 of the 2007 World Series.

"In my mind, two weeks from today I'll throw a bullpen, and if I don't, then something will have gone wrong," Schilling said. "I just don't feel like anything is going to go wrong right now."

Finally, Schilling feels as if there will be some payoff to all the work he's done in his program with the training staff.

"Yeah, it's coming," said Schilling. "We're getting closer to getting on the mound, and that's where I want to get."

Before Friday's game in Oakland, Schilling had his most significant throwing session yet, as he worked his way out to about 140 feet.

"Today, he kept creeping out there and creeping out there," said Francona. "That's pretty significant. When you start throwing 135, 140 feet, you're going to feel something. That's a little bit of an effort there. Not that there hasn't been but 60, 80 feet, he could probably pretend his way through it. Now you start getting out there. ... It's good to see."

As enthused as Francona and pitching coach John Farrell are by Schilling's recent progress, the pitcher is taking each step for what it's worth.

"It was another step," said Schilling. "Like I said, it's hard to put a lot of weight and a lot of ... it's hard to get excited about throwing 140 feet. Within the context of what I'm doing, yeah, it's great. It's still a long ways from throwing a pitch in anger in a game that matters."

Just the fact that Schilling is starting to talk about pitching again is a sign that he's feeling better.

"The one thing I think you see is a little nervousness, which is good," Francona said. "You start hearing him talk about pitching a little bit, which we haven't heard. The majority of the time, he's with John, because they go out early. But John kind of came in today and said he's talking about attacking hitters and he said it was refreshing to hear him talking like that. It's been a long road back for him."

Of course, where Schilling is concerned, his word count can be as telling as his pitch count.

"I'm starting to talk [trash] in the clubhouse, so I guess, yeah, that means I'm getting closer," said Schilling. "And a couple of people in here have remarked that I'm starting to become a [wise guy] about some things, so that's good."

In the meantime, Schilling will keep focused on doing everything it takes to get back to the mound in a game.

"Where I am and where I need to be, there's still a big gap there," Schilling said. "I don't do any baseball activity outside of the work we're doing. That means I'm still not a member of the team in a sense, so it's tough. It'll come. I'm trying to make sure I'm getting the work and making time and putting the time and effort and all that stuff that goes into doing it."

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

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