While the nation focuses on the congressional hearings on the Mitchell report regarding who took steroids, HGH etc., or rather “Rocket” Roger Clemens — did he or didn’t he(?), this blog remains focused on baseball purism.
As I have stated in the past, this blog is not about the sensationalism of the paparazzi coverage of the entire steroids, HGH and sports issue. This blog is about baseball — all baseball, all the time.
As such, this blog’s focus remains on such topics as the impact of Curt Schilling’s latest shoulder injury on his 2008 season, contract and career, the Phillies’ signing of Kris Benson, a Tommy John surgery recipient trying to resurrect his pitching career, the countdown to Ryan Howard’s arbitration salary hearing or Chicago Cubs’ closer Ryan Dempster’s 2008 Cubs in World Series prediction. This blog will address all of these topics topics and more as anticipation heats up for the 2008 season as Thursday, February 14 marked Spring Training’s first voluntary report date.
Curt Schilling has been one of my all-time favorites since he burst onto the Phillies’ scene in 1992 after the Houston Astros traded him in exchange for the erratic and mediocre Jason Grimsley who didn’t even make the Astros and ended up with the Cleveland Indians in 1993 through the 1997 season amidst a journeyman career which ended in 2006 after spanning 15 seasons and 7 teams.
Meantime, Schilling went 14-11 for the 70-92 Phillies of 1992 and finished 16-7 in leading the 1993 Phils to the NL Pennant and to playing the Toronto Blue Jays in the forgettable Mitch Williams, Joe Carter 1993 World Series.
The 1994, 95 and 96 seasons were injury-marred and abbreviated off-years for Schilling although he did return to form going 17-11 in 1997, 15-14 in 1998 and 15-6 in 1999 with the Phillies before being traded to Arizona in mid-2000. I’ve been a Schilling fan since, irrespective of whether he was with the Diamondbacks (2000-2003 including 2001 World Championship) or with the Boston Red Sox (2004-present including World Championships in 2004, 2007).
I was happy to see “The Schill” nail down his 200th win back in May, 2006 enroute to a 15-7 record, during this blog’s inaugural season. Unfortunately, shoulder woes and assorted other injuries caused him to miss part of that 2006 season as well as most of last season, although he performed in typical Schilling style with the money on the line in the post-season, going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four postseason starts, improving his career playoff and World Series record to 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA.
But the big question, the $10 million question — will Schilling pitch in 2008, or is his career at an end?
AP sports writer Howard Ulman reports for Yahoo sports;
While the precise nature of Schilling’s injury is not known, it is believed that the right-hander is suffering from an injury to the rotator cuff and/or labrum that might require surgery. It is possible that the sides disagree on how to treat Schilling’s ailment…
If Schilling has surgery on his shoulder, it is almost certain that he would be unable to pitch this season.
Presumably, Schilling underwent a physical exam when the Red Sox signed him to his guaranteed contract in November. It is unclear whether Schilling’s current problem was overlooked at the time or if he suffered the injury at a later date.
Schilling did not pitch between June 18 and Aug. 6 of last season when he was on the disabled list with a right shoulder ailment. At the time, the problems were believed to be related to tendinitis and general fatigue.
Privately, club officials believed that some of Schilling’s difficulties early last season resulted from him showing up in poor condition at spring training. Schilling’s new contract includes incentive clauses for the pitcher meeting specified weight requirements at various checkpoints through the season.
Schilling comments on the current injury on his “38 pitches” blog;
At the time we negotiated the 2008 contract I passed all physical exams and testing, as well as the MRI the club required me to take. I knew in my heart of hearts that the extra time I was giving my arm to rest this winter would in fact be the cure for what I went through the entire 2007 season. I had a strong desire to not have to go through multiple cortisone injections in my shoulder for another year. There was absolutely no reason for anyone involved to believe I would be anything other than completely healthy and ready for the 2008 baseball season.
Things have changed since then and I contacted the team early last month with concerns and we’ve been working diligently to resolve them.
There have been disagreements these past few weeks in an effort to provide me with a solution that would allow me to pitch as much as possible during the 2008 season. At no time did I ever consider taking a course of action against the clubs wishes. In the end, regardless of who agreed with whom, I have chosen the clubs course of action and will vigorously pursue any and every option I can to be able to help this team to another World Series title in 2008.
I have agreed to abide with the clubs wishes in hopes that will provide the results they believe it will.
To Curt Schilling, best wishes for a return to form, a successful 2008 season, and a 2008 World Series date with the Phillies.