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Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on February 10, 2008
Only weeks after removing themselves from the Johan Santana sweepstakes, the Boston Red Sox find themselves short one starter. Curt Schilling recently began a rehabilitation program for his right (throwing) shoulder.
Schilling, 41, has fragmenting and tearing of the biceps tendon, which connects the humerus, a bone in the upper arm, to the labrum, a collection of tissue in the shoulder. An examination by Dr. David Altchek, the Mets’ medical director and a third doctor called in to resolve the situation, revealed that Schilling also had a torn rotator cuff.
If Schilling pursues surgery to repair the damage in his tendon, Dr. Craig Morgan, Schilling’s personal doctor, believes he could return by the All Star Break. However, the Red Sox’s medical staff disagrees, thinking Schilling will likely be out the entire season. At his advanced age, surgery may end Schilling’s career, too.
The team prefers for Schilling to rehab through the problem rather than resorting to surgery. Morgan does not believe that to be the best course of action. “If (the Sox plan) was successful, I think it would be the greatest thing known to man,'' Morgan said in a phone interview with the Boston Globe. “But unfortunately that's not the case. That's like wishing for the best-case scenario. Wishing isn't going to make it happen.”
“Within a week or two of the cortisone shot, (if) he's unable to exercise due to pain, then it's over.”
The situation is precarious for both parties. The Red Sox signed Schilling to an $8 million contract, which includes $3 million in performance bonuses and $2 million in weight incentives, in November. They could, however, void Schilling’s contract if he elected for surgery against their opinion.
But according to Morgan, rehab is a waste of time; the pain is likely not going to go away. “This is not just soreness, but big-time pain,” Morgan said in his interview with the Globe. “It's very painful, and it's irreversible. There's a fragmenting and tearing of the tendon in three stages.”
Perhaps if Schilling had told the Red Sox earlier what he recently wrote in his blog 38 Pitches, the team would have been less likely to give him that much guaranteed money, which may have made them less reluctant for Schilling to pursue surgery.
In it, Schilling wrote, “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.” His shoulder bothered him the entire season, yet the Red Sox still guaranteed that much money to him in 2008 and chose to drop out of the Santana sweepstakes rather early.
Unless things change drastically before opening day, the Red Sox need to avoid counting on Schilling to contribute much this season. And they are losing a large piece of the puzzle, since Schilling was listed as the team’s number two starting pitcher.
Daisuke Matsuzaka assumes that role, but he finished last season 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA. In his first season, Matsuzaka was inconsistent, with his month-by-month ERAs varying drastically.
This move also puts knuckleballer Tim Wakefield back into the rotation. Combine that with two kids, albeit very talented youngsters, at the back of the rotation in the forms of Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, and the Red Sox rotation looks a little bit weaker than it did just a few weeks ago.
With the New York Yankees right behind them, this could be an interesting battle for American League East supremacy.