Schilling eyes August return

Curt Schilling threw a 31-pitch session to live batters yesterday, and reported no problems. He was able to throw without any discomfort, and stated today on the radio that he thinks two or three rehab starts are in order before he rejoins the major league club. He pointed to a return at the end of July or early August.

Certainly Kason Gabbard’s performance (and not just last night) is making it easier for all of us to stomach Schilling’s absence. Ironically, with the trading deadline coming up, Gabbard could be pitching himself out of the organization, as the Sox prepare to make a deadline deal or two. A major league-ready left-handed starter is a valuable commodity these days, especially one making the league minimum salary and just one year of service time.

Take a close look, Sox fans, because you’re getting a sneak preview of what our rotation might look like next year without Schilling, whose contract expires at the end of this season. He has said (twice) that he would take a one-year extension at $13 million, but the front office hasn’t yet taken him up on that offer. One conjecture is that the front office wants to drop his contract to go after A-Rod this offseason. (Of course, we expect that Tavarez will be ousted in favor of one of the younger arms in the stable.)

Speaking of which, right-handed phenom Clay Buchholz was recently promoted to AAA Pawtucket, and made his first start there last night, giving up two runs and fanning four in three innings of work. The consensus is that he’s just about ready for the big time, so look for him to be up in September, if not earlier.


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