Schilling disappointed, Francona encouraged

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Curt Schilling's sock was bloodless, his
ankle was stable and his manager was encouraged.

But the perfectionist pitcher was less than thrilled Thursday
after throwing off a mound for the first time since his gritty
performance in Game 2 of the World Series, which was followed by
surgery 16 days later.

"This was a day when I didn't feel as good as I wanted to
feel,'' Schilling said after his 47-pitch, 16-minute workout. "My
ankle didn't hurt, so I guess that's a positive for people other
than me.''

Important people such as Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

"I think he looked terrific,'' Francona said. "He wants to be
dotting every corner right now and throwing splits, and that's just
not going to happen.''

Pitching Opening Day against the New York Yankees on April 3 --
probably against former Arizona teammate Randy Johnson -- remains a
possibility, and Schilling's competitive nature is driving him
toward that. But he wants to make sure he's healthy at a much more
important time.

"I know that the goal's to be on the mound in October again,''
said Schilling, who expects to pitch again on Saturday. "I still
expect ... to be as ready as I can be on April 3, but I'm not going
to sacrifice the latter half of the season for the early half.

"I guess I'm going to have to be patient.''

Schilling's 21-6 record and 3.26 ERA in his first season with
Boston boosted the Red Sox into the playoffs, where his bloody sock
became the symbol of his determination to do whatever he could to
help them win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.

He had one of the worst outings of his career in the first game
of the AL championship series, allowing six runs in three innings
of a 10-7 loss to the Yankees. Before his next start, a tendon that
had been slipping out of place was stitched to his skin.

With blood seeping through the sutures, Schilling allowed one
run in seven innings during Boston's 4-2 win.

The procedure was repeated before his next start, against the
St. Louis Cardinals. He allowed no earned runs in six innings of a
6-2 victory as Boston took a 2-0 lead on its way to a World Series

He had surgery Nov. 9 to repair a ruptured tendon sheath and had
the cast removed about a month later.

On Thursday, he passed a big test.

Schilling played long toss with David Wells, then, at 10:05
a.m., took the mound without wearing an ankle brace and threw his
first pitch from one of four adjacent pitching rubbers in a

Ten television cameras recorded his moves. Francona and pitching
coach Dave Wallace watched closely from behind the mound. Shawn
Wooten crouched behind the plate.

"I know he's one of the best and it's an honor to catch him,''
said Wooten, who spent last season with Philadelphia after three
with Anaheim. "The ball was coming out of his hand real well. He
looked fluid.''

Schilling threw the last nine of his 47 pitches from the
stretch. He used all his pitches, worked both sides of the plate
and rarely smiled, even when Francona talked to him.

"I went out and talked to him and I should have just left him
alone,'' the manager said. "He was grumpy.''

Schilling threw his last pitch at 10:21 a.m., changed into
running shoes and talked with Francona, Wallace and Red Sox
rehabilitation coordinator Chris Correnti. Moments later, he got
into a golf cart and was driven away.

"It's a good start, Wallace said. "I'm not worried about the
arm because I know he takes care of his arm. So you want to just
make sure everything's OK with his ankle and he doesn't impede his
delivery, which looked like it was OK today.''

Schilling worked out for more than an hour afterward. He doesn't
expect his ankle to bother him Friday.

"Every day I feel like I'm getting better. Some days I feel
like I'm making big gains. Other days, not as much,'' Schilling
said. "As far as stamina and stuff like that goes, I felt

The ankle surgery actually was four separate operations,
including one involving a bone, Schilling said. He doesn't expect
to be 100 percent healthy again.

"I don't think any of us are after we're about 12,'' he said.
"The bone issue's going to be, they said 12 to 14 months of
discomfort. I'm not really concerned about that. I'm sore, and
soreness is good, but I don't have any pain, which is better.''