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Timlin back on shelf

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  March 9, 2007 01:25 PM

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It had become fashionable in recent days to speculate that the Sox were leaning toward making Mike Timlin the closer coming out of camp, which seemed a bit of a reach since Timlin had yet to appear in a game this spring.

Lenny DiNardo's last day with the Red Sox
Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin laughed as he joked with teammates during a practice in Fort Myers on Friday. The reliever doesn't think a back problem will hurt his chances to be the Red Sox closer. (AP Photo)

It becomes even more of a reach after Terry Francona told reporters in Clearwater this morning that Timlin's scheduled appearance tomorrow in Lakeland has been scratched amid lingering concerns about his strained side muscle.

Timlin had strained the muscle while throwing live BP while the team was still at the minor league facility, and now he's been pushed back for at least another week, Francona said. He underwent another MRI yesterday, and evidently there were sufficient grounds for concern not to push him at this stage.

Timlin had shoulder problems last season, a direct result of his participation in the World Baseball Classic, according to Francona, and he turns 41 tomorrow. Only Mike Stanton and Jose Mesa have made more appearances among major leaguers active through 2006 than Timlin, who last season made a club-leading 68 appearances despite a 16-day stint on the DL. Two years ago, he made a club-record 81 appearances, and there is obvious reason to wonder when Timlin will reach the outer end of his baseball mortality.

The Sox made some roster cuts today, sending Jacoby Ellsbury, David Pauley, Edgar Martinez, Chadd Spann and Luis Jimenez back to minor-league camp, which officially opens Sunday with the first full workout.

Terry Francona and Curt Schilling both plan to attend funeral services Tuesday for John Vukovich, the long-time Phillies coach who died yesterday of complications stemming from inoperable brain cancer. Schilling will pitch a simulated game that night upon his return.

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