PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Curt Schilling moved closer to returning to Boston’s rotation, throwing another simulated game Friday.

Schilling, sidelined with a right ankle injury since April 24, is expected to pitch in a bullpen session on Sunday and make a start for Triple-A Pawtucket next Wednesday.

“It’s getting better. I felt good. I felt smooth,” Schilling said after throwing 84 pitches from the mound before the Red Sox played the Phillies. “My pitches have gotten sharper the last couple days and I felt like I was ready.”

Schilling said he plans to make more than one rehab start. After throwing 65 pitches in Cleveland on Monday, Schilling started lobbying to speed up his rehabilitation. However, he did back off a statement he made last week that his goal was to return by the All-Star break.

“I thought he was good the other day and I wanted him to repeat it,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Now we’ll go let him pitch. He looked healthy. He looked great.”

Schilling injured a tendon in his ankle near the end of last regular season and struggled in Game 1 of the AL championship series against New York. The ankle was stitched up to keep the tendon in place and he started Game 6, helping the Red Sox come back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the Yankees.

The procedure was repeated before Game 2 of the World Series, where Boston swept St. Louis in four games to win its first championship since 1918.

Schilling’s current injury is a bone bruise in the same ankle. He had offseason surgery and missed opening day. After three poor starts, he went on the disabled list.

“I think he regressed this spring,” Francona said. “Now he proved to us he does look healthy and he can go pitch a little bit.”

AP-ES-06-24-05 1842EDT


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