ANAHEIM, Calif. Curt Schilling will return to the starting rotation Thursday night after an inconsistent stint as Boston’s closer.
‘‘We’ve wanted all along to get him back in the rotation,’’ manager Terry Francona said Saturday before the Red Sox played the Los Angeles Angels in a matchup of AL division leaders.
Francona made the announcement about 12 hours after Schilling pitched two perfect innings with four strikeouts to earn the victory in Boston’s 4-3, 10-inning triumph Friday night. He will start in Kansas City on Thursday.
As a starter, Schilling helped the Red Sox win their first World Series title in 86 years last season. The right ankle he injured, which required offseason surgery, hasn’t hindered him for some time. But after spending nearly three months on the disabled list, he’s been erratic in his first shot as a closer.
The 38-year-old right-hander, a six-time All-Star with two World Series rings, allowed eight hits and seven runs in the three outings before Friday night’s outstanding effort. Francona said Schilling will be in the bullpen through the weekend.
‘‘Anxious,’’ Schilling replied when asked how he felt about starting again. ‘‘I’ve still got to go out and perform. I’m going to throw some sort of pitch count Thursday. What I do (Saturday) or tomorrow won’t affect that pitch count.”
‘‘It will (feel good) once it gets here. I’ve got a job to do today. That’s my main focus right now.’’
When asked what he expected, Schilling replied: ‘‘To win.’’
Schilling has made three starts and 20 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season. A three-time 20-game winner, he has a 5-5 record with a 6.37 ERA and nine saves in 11 chances. He replaced Keith Foulke as the team’s closer when Foulke had arthroscopic knee surgery and was placed on the disabled list retroactive to July 5.
Schilling struggled as a starter in his minor league rehab assignments while on the disabled list because of a bone bruise on his right ankle. He was activated last month after being sidelined for almost three months.
Foulke, close to returning, was hit on the elbow by a liner during a simulated game Friday, but wasn’t seriously injured. He’s expected to throw again Tuesday.
Mike Timlin is expected to replace Schilling in the closer’s role, at least temporarily, beginning Tuesday night in Kansas City.
‘‘It’s great news,’’ Boston first baseman John Olerud said. ‘‘There’s an adjustment going from the bullpen to starting. I’ve got to believe it’s an easier adjustment for him than going from starter to the bullpen.’’
Schilling said he learned a lot from his experience in the bullpen.
‘‘It was a big adjustment for me mentally,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s such a different job. You can go out and give up three hits and two runs in an inning as a starter and pitch a good game. As a reliever, it’s a loss.’’
Regarding his performance Friday night, Schilling said: ‘‘I used all my pitches like I did as a starter and we located well. I had good command and I pitched.’’
Schilling said he’s felt good for quite a while.
‘‘That’s been the frustrating part,’’ he said. ‘‘My foot’s felt good for an extended period of time, the results weren’t there. Hopefully the next four or five weeks I can plan on going nine when I get the ball.
‘‘I’ve still got to go out and do it.’’
Notes: Red Sox outfielder Adam Stern was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained right thumb and left-hander Lenny DiNardo was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
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