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Schilling shows encouraging signs

Schilling shows encouraging signs

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling made one more step Friday on his long road toward returning to the Red Sox's rotation.

The 41-year-old right-hander threw 35 pitches off the Fenway Park bullpen mound, 10 pitches more than he tossed on Wednesday when he threw off the hill for the first time. Schilling said he has already thrown all his pitches -- even breaking balls -- and is working toward the next phase of his recovery: facing batters at the plate.

"Getting on the mound in the bullpen, regardless of the pitch count, was the stage. I'm waiting for the next stage now," Schilling said. "We'll increase the pitch count with a couple more bullpens, then I'll throw a pregame warmup bullpen and throw 15 pitches for an inning to hitters. The next [outing] would be a bullpen, then 15-pitch innings. Then you have to look at the calendar and see where we're at."

Schilling was realistic about the rehabilitation to his injured right throwing shoulder that forced the Red Sox to put him on the 60-day disabled list during Spring Training. He said there are more factors to his return than just his health returning to top form.

"I've said this from the beginning: No. 1, I actually have to be good," he said. "I mean, this is not about, 'Hey he's ready, let's clear a spot in the rotation for Curt Schilling.' If Curt Schilling can't be Game 5, World Series effective against anybody, I'm not gonna pitch."

He said the second variable will be making sure he can go deep into games when he does return, considering it could be a point in the season where the bullpen will need pivotal days to rest.

"When I come back I can't be the guy where they're like, 'Oh, he's at 74 [pitches],' " he said. "I can't be a guy who goes out there and you say, 'I hope we get six [innings].' Because we're in August. There are a lot of things that play into this that don't have anything to do with my health or how I feel."

Manager Terry Francona said he hadn't spoken to Schilling since his stint in the bullpen on Friday, but mentioned earlier in the week the emotions that his veteran righty has expressed since getting onto the mound.

"Understandably he's excited," Francona said Wednesday. "It's exciting for us."

Still, Schilling said he's careful to get too eager about his progress. After all, he's got a long way to go before he makes his first start with the Sox this season.

"[It's about] being able to measure it and gauge it," he said. "And I can't really tell right now. The coaches say, 'you look great, you look great.' It's relative. I look great 'cause I was able to throw four months ago. Or do I look good 'cause my stuff's coming?"

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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