Some Red Sox want Schilling back as starter

BOSTON -- Some teammates of Boston Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling are skeptical about the right-hander returning to the pitching staff as a reliever.

The Red Sox are sending Schilling to the bullpen to bolster the team's struggling bullpen and help him work his way back from an ankle injury.

But some Red Sox players told The Boston Globe that setup man Mike Timlin and starter Bronson Arroyo, who has pitched in relief before, are better candidates to replace injured closer Keith Foulke in the bullpen.

"[Schilling has] never done it," center fielder Johnny Damon told the paper Wednesday night. "He throws 60 pitches to get loose for a game. He needs to get loose. Two outs in the eighth, a home run is hit. Get ready, 10 pitches. He can't do it. Timlin could, Bronson could. I don't think it's a good move for us. We've always talked about all year he'd come back and be a starter, and be a good starter. He can't just walk in and be a good closer. He's not ready yet. He's not ready."

"If he sets up at first, long guy out [of the bullpen], maybe we'll see," Damon said. ''Right now we're expecting him to be our starting pitcher. I guess we'll just have more team meetings and see what's the best direction for our team."

Tim Wakefield, who has bounced between bullpen and starting roles for the Red Sox in the past, agreed with Damon.

''The way our rotation is now, if it doesn't stay healthy, we need another starter," Wakefield told the Globe. ''I'd rather have Curt coming in as a starter than having him close and then counting on our rotation to stay healthy for the rest of the year."

General manager Theo Epstein isn't polling the players to determine Schilling's future.

"It's definitely the best thing for him," Epstein said Wednesday, "… and it just so happens to be exactly what the team needs right now."

Foulke had arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage on his left knee Thursday. He will begin rehabilitation immediately, and team doctor Thomas Gill said recovery from this type of surgery typically takes about six weeks. Foulke was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to the day before.

Schilling has been on a minor-league rehab assignment while trying to recover from a right ankle injury that put him on the disabled list after just three starts. He struggled to get through five innings with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday.

After a brief workout Wednesday afternoon before the Red Sox played in Texas, Schilling left to rejoin Pawtucket to throw an inning in relief Thursday night. The right-hander left before the clubhouse was open to reporters.

Manager Terry Francona, who first broached the plan publicly, said Schilling isn't ready to give the Red Sox the innings they need from a starter, but can help for a couple of innings.