Injured Schilling in camp to rehab shoulder
AP Sports Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
FORT MYERS, Fla. ” Curt Schilling’s 21st season is starting with a spring training unlike any of his others ” with a long process of rehabilitating his shoulder after apparently patching up differences with the Red Sox over the best way to treat it.
Schilling met with Boston general manager Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell after reporting to camp on Thursday. The right-hander didn’t practice outdoors and is scheduled to began his rehab exercises on Friday.
“We just actually chatted with him,” Epstein said, “and everyone seems to be on the same page.”
That wasn’t the case last week when the Red Sox and Dr. Craig Morgan, brought in by Schilling for a second opinion, differed strongly.
Morgan, who operated on Schilling’s right shoulder in 1995 and 1999, said the pitcher had a torn tendon and the only way he could pitch again is by having surgery. The team contended that the tendon was damaged, not torn, and insisted on rehabilitation.
Schilling eventually sided with the team, which could have voided his one-year, $8 million contract if he chose surgery.
Schilling did not speak with reporters Thursday, the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers.
“He’ll be rehabbing and strengthening for at least six to eight weeks. Then we’ll see where we go from there,” Epstein said.
He’s not expected to return before the All-Star break.
“It’s way too early to put any kind of timetable on it. It’s just step-by-step,” Epstein said. “He’s at the very beginning of the process.”
The 41-year-old Schilling received a cortisone shot Monday designed to reduce the pain and allow him to do his rehab exercises, Epstein said.
The shot, originally planned for last Friday, was delayed “to synchronize his arrival at camp with the right amount of days after the cortisone shot” before he begins rehabilitation, Epstein said.
Schilling spent seven weeks on the disabled list last year with tendinitis in the shoulder. He was 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA in 24 games last season. In the postseason, he went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA to help the Red Sox win their second World Series title in four years.
Without Schilling, the rotation shapes up as Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, with Julian Tavarez and several others as possibilities. Epstein said his best options to replace Schilling were with players already in the organization.
“We’re in a situation where we’ll be able to handle it,” Francona said. “There are going to be some people that probably will get opportunities that maybe wouldn’t have.”
One of them will not be Jonathan Papelbon.
He began last spring as a starter, was switched back to the closer’s role on Sept. 22 and finished with a 1.85 ERA, 37 saves and a 1-3 record. He struck out Seth Smith for the final out of the World Series as the Red Sox completed a sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
“I’m just going to stick to closing, man,” Papelbon said after reporting on Thursday.
He expressed confidence in the team despite the absence of Schilling.
“Obviously, any time you lose somebody it’s going to be tough,” Papelbon said, “but I don’t know a whole lot about that. I barely got on the internet or picked up a paper this offseason.”
Epstein knows plenty about it. Eight days after the World Series, Schilling agreed to a contract for 2008 and had to take a physical. The team did not announce results, but Schilling said on his blog, 38pitches.com, that he passed “all physical exams and testing, as well as the MRI the club required me to take.”
Epstein said Thursday, “We sort of knew what we had with any pitcher of that age, but his shoulder was strong and he took an MRI. I wouldn’t put fault on our medical staff at all for that.”
So what happened?
“It’s hard to say,” Epstein said. “We all put our heads together trying to figure out the exact nature of the situation so we could do our best to resolve it, but there’s no black-and-white incident (that caused the problem). His shoulder didn’t respond to his throwing regime.”
On his blog, Schilling said he had “a strong desire to not have to go through multiple cortisone injections in my shoulder for another year.”
Now that seems unavoidable.
“The diagnosis process is really behind us,” Epstein said. “There were some bumps along the road because both parties care so much about the team and about his career and doing what’s right. But now that we’re here in spring training, it’s pretty simple.
“He’s here to rehab and get back into position to help the club.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.