Notes: Schilling heads to Arizona

Notes: Schilling heads to Arizona

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Curt Schilling will be in Arizona for roughly the next 10 days, but it won't be to catch up with friends and family in the state where he has a home in the offseason. This is a business trip for Schilling, who hopes to turn a corner in his rehab from right ankle woes by working out at the Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe.

Schilling has worked closely with trainers from API over the past couple of years and being on site should maximize what the right-hander is able to do.

While a stress reaction in his surgically repaired ankle has kept Schilling out of the rotation since April 23, he has been making progress over the last 10 days and said earlier this week that his target is to make his next start for the Red Sox before the All-Star break, which begins on July 11.

"He's going to [do] two-a-days. He'll go 8 a.m. to [noon] and 4-6 p.m.," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We've been talking to him about it for a few days. Instead of getting one-on-one, which is great, he's going to get four-on-one. There's a nutritionist. There's a spa. There's a physical therapist, and he's going to go twice a day, and he can work on the aerobics, getting in condition. I think it will allow him to progress faster. Everybody involved, including Schill, thinks it's really a good positive step for him to do this."

On Monday, Schilling -- testing a custom-made shoe that provided better balance for his ankle -- threw off a mound for the first time since going on the disabled list. Francona said he'll be able to stay on a throwing schedule at API, which is located near Arizona State University.

Francona estimated that Schilling would come back from Arizona on June 13, when the Sox open their next homestand.

Damon bounces back: If center fielder Johnny Damon has proven one thing since arriving in Boston in 2002, it is that he always recovers quickly from injuries. One day after suffering scratches and contusions to his face and having four stitches inserted above his right eye -- this following a hard collision with the railing in front of the Red Sox bullpen -- Damon was back in center field and leading off.

"I pretty much told [Francona] last night that I was going to be playing," said Damon. "I wanted to keep playing last night. Of course, I couldn't see the slice in my eye like they did. So I'm back. Just like usual, I'm not going to let this hold me back. Hopefully I can help our team win tonight. The knee's all right, just a little scraped up. Nothing I can't deal with."

Francona has come to love managing Damon because of his willingness to play through anything.

"He's a tough kid. He played last year so many times when I didn't think it was fair to ask him to play, and he'd go out and get a bunch of hits and make a play," Francona said. "He's tough."

The one injury that took Damon a few days to recover from was the concussion he suffered following a collision with Damian Jackson in the 2003 Division Series at Oakland.

"I know I can take a hit," Damon said. "That's a good thing. I know that wall's not as tough as Damian Jackson. So, that's all I need to know."

Mirabelli getting there: Backup catcher Doug Mirabelli is eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but it is expected to be at least a week beyond that before he is activated. There's an outside chance Mirabelli could catch by June 12, when veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield starts the finale of a six-game road trip at Wrigley Field.

"He's continuing to do his range of motion through the homestand," Francona said. "He got a very good checkup. He will continue with his throwing and his catching. He will be completely out of the splint if everything goes according to plan one week from today and start his hitting."

Ortiz gearing up for first: When the Red Sox visit St. Louis and Chicago for six games next week, the first base controversy between Kevin Millar and John Olerud will become a non-issue. During those games, designated hitter David Ortiz will move to first base, as pitchers hit in National League venues.

Ortiz has made just one start at first base this season, back on April 25. But he proved last year during the World Series that he could hold his own on defense after an extended layoff. If you recall, Ortiz made a perfect throw across the diamond to nail Jeff Suppan, who inexplicably got caught up between third and home when the Red Sox were inviting him to walk home from third on a grounder to second.

"It [isn't] easy. I don't like to look bad out there," said Ortiz. "I've been out there one time all year. I keep practicing. I try to do my best."

Pitchers getting ready: Boston's starting pitchers, and also long man John Halama, are hitting off a tee this week and practicing bunting in preparation for next week, when they will be required to bat during games.

On deck: Matt Clement, who has been Boston's best pitcher of late, takes the mound in Thursday afternoon's finale of this four-game series against the Orioles. Right-hander Hayden Penn -- making his second career start -- will pitch for the O's.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.