Thursday, February 7, 2008

Shilling Sidelined with More Shoulder Issues

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is not expected to be ready for the start of spring training because of shoulder issues, much like the ones that caused the club to shut him down for seven weeks last season, according to sources. His availability for Opening Day could also be in question, though one source familiar with Schilling's condition said it was premature to speculate.
Details remain sketchy, but Schilling recently went to see Dr. Craig Morgan, the doctor who performed his shoulder surgery in 1995. Morgan, citing HIPPA regulations, referred all questions to Schilling, who has not yet responded to e-mails sent to him and his publicist seeking confirmation. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein e-mailed a "no comment" when asked about Schilling's condition.
Schilling, who turned 41 last Nov. 14, went on the disabled list with what the team called shoulder tendinitis last June 22 (retroactive to June 19) after a disastrous outing in Atlanta in which his velocity registered in the low 80s and he allowed 6 runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings against the Braves. He was on the DL until Aug. 6, and upon his return acknowledged that he'd altered his approach, becoming more of a finesse pitcher than the power pitcher he'd been for most of his career.
While noting that the transition was a work in progress, Schilling had some success in his return, posting a 3-4 record and a 3.34 ERA upon returning on Aug. 6. He also was 3-0 in the postseason, winning the clinching game of the ALDS against the Angels and rebounding from a Game 2 shellacking by the Indians to win Game 6 of the ALCS.
Schilling enters this season ranked eighth in wins among active pitchers with 216, fourth in strikeouts with 3,116, and ninth in innings with 3,261.
After signaling that he might not be coming back to the Sox after the season, sending letters of farewell to some teammates, Schilling elected to take less money to return, signing a one-year deal for $8 million, with an additional $3 million in weight-clause incentives. He has said this definitely will be his last season.
If he is not ready to take his spot in the rotation at the start of the season, rookie Clay Buchholz is the logical candidate to replace him. Pitchers and catchers are due to report to Fort Myers for spring training on Feb. 14.

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