RHP Curt Schilling was activated yesterday after spending 21/2 months on the disabled list, and he will be in the bullpen when the Red Sox begin the second half of the season against the Yankees tonight.

Schilling is expected to work in relief until he is ready to pitch long enough to reclaim his spot in the rotation. He went on the disabled list April 29 with a bone bruise in his right ankle.

The Red Sox also activated RHP Chad Bradford, acquired yesterday from Oakland for OF Jay Payton. Bradford, a reliever, has spent the entire season on the disabled list.

To make room on the roster, they optioned 3B Kevin Youkilis and outrighted RHP Scott Cassidy to Class AAA Pawtucket.

Boston needs help in its bullpen. RHP Keith Foulke, LHP Alan Embree, RHP Matt Mantei and LHP John Halama all have ERAs over 6.00. Foulke and Mantei are on the disabled list.

Bradford had a 21-15 career record with seven saves and a 3.47 ERA for the Athletics.

A few hours after getting Payton, Oakland acquired LHP Joe Kennedy and RHP Jay Witasick. The A's shipped popular OF Eric Byrnes and cash to Colorado for the two pitchers.

* OWEN DIES: Mickey Owen, whose infamous dropped third strike proved costly to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1941 World Series against the Yankees, died after a long illness.

He was 89.

Owen had a .995 fielding percentage in 1941 and set an NL record for catchers with 476 consecutive chances without an error.

"I don't mind being the goat," he said later. "I'm just sorry for what I cost the other guys."

* RATINGS ARE DOWN: Ratings for the All-Star Game hit a new low for the second straight year.

The American League's 7-5 victory on Tuesday received an 8.1 rating and 14 share on FOX, Nielsen Media Research said. That is down 8 percent from the 8.8 rating last year.

This year's game, which gave Fox a prime time win, had a high rating of 9.2 from 9:30-10 p.m.

* CUBA MAY NOT PLAY IN CLASSIC: Cuba's top sports official said he doubts the nation will participate in next year's World Baseball Classic, calling the event commercialization of the sport.

Baseball's first World Cup-style tournament, organized by Major League Baseball and its players' association, is scheduled to start March 3.

"Cuba doubts it will participate, primarily because the reasons and the interests behind the event have yet to be stated clearly," Humberto Rodriguez, president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports, told the Associated Press.

-- From News Services

Curt Schilling, shown here pitching for Class AAA Pawtucket, is back with the Red Sox for the second half of the season. Schilling will begin in the bullpen.