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Schilling not worried about ankle10/11/2004 8:42 PM ET
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Curt Schilling was deep in the underbelly of Yankee Stadium on Monday when he ruminated on the prospect of pitching a postseason game in the mystical, majestic and mob-filled ballpark.
Schilling, who'll start for the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series opener, remembered a conversation he had with Terry Mulholland in 1993. They were with the Phillies, preparing for a playoff game in Atlanta.
"He said the awesome thing about being a starting pitcher is you have the ability to make 55,000 people shut up when you're on the road," Schilling said.
"I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up."
That's Schilling's goal and his challenge: casting a pall of gloom over the raucous Yankees fan.
That's really why he came to the Red Sox -- to pop out of the dugout and climb the mound at Yankee Stadium.
"He's been looking forward to this situation, this type of game for a long time," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Sure, it doesn't guarantee wins, but I think you're going to see the best of Schill."
The best of Schilling can be very, very good. Twenty-one wins this year and a Division Series victory over the Angels. A co-MVP in the Diamondbacks' World Series triumph over the Yankees in 2001. A cumulative postseason record of 6-1 and an ERA of 1.74.
Now, Curt, what about the thing that's not very, very good -- that right ankle?
His Reader's Digest reply: Fiddle-de-dee.
Or, in his actual words: "I'm not planning on it being an issue."
Oh, the ankle will be wrapped and he'll get an injection and the medical staff will be on alert and all that, but Schilling doesn't expect this to be a problem.
"The only thing it affects is the drive off the rubber. I can move around fine, other than pitching from the rubber," he said. "This happened about a month ago in a Baltimore game at home. ... We did a test run yesterday -- what we are going to do tomorrow -- and everything worked great."
It was noted that Schilling had said, despite his victory over the Angels, that his command was the worst it had been in weeks.
"I don't think any of it was related to the ankle. I think it had to do more probably with the timing between starts. I just wasn't as sharp as I thought I was going to be."
So, assuming his ankle will be OK, what can be expected from Schilling in this Boston-New York punchout?
Yankees manager Joe Torre saw Schilling in action with the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. He senses a rattler ready to strike again.
"He elevates his game, no question," Torre said. "We watched him pitch against Anaheim and he certainly has had practice on the big stage. They stopped our streak of three straight championships in 2001; both he and the Big Unit battled their tails off."
The great ones, Torre surmised, rise to the occasion. The secret is not to surrender to the enchantment.
"You have to make sure that you don't become a fan all of a sudden and just admire what he's doing," Torre said. "You have to do something about it."
So Schilling now will face an on-the-alert Yankees club in the midst of the Yankee Stadium howl.
"I don't know that I've ever pitched in a game that will have atmosphere that tomorrow's game has. In Arizona during the World Series, it was electric and all that it could be here, but I think the Yankees and the Red Sox is a step above everything," he said.
"As far as what I do and how I do what I do, I really don't have an explanation aside from God has blessed me with some incredible ability and I feel like at this point during the season, the best players in the world step up and use that ability. I feel I have the ability to do that."
His work, he knows, will be cut out for him. The Yankees have an annoying habit of making lives miserable for those who oppose them.
Schilling talked about Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, guys he couldn't imagine in anything but pinstripes. They bring, he said, "something different" to the field.
"They bring an aura to other teams that they've got two out of three games in this series before the series starts," he said, then added: "I know there are other teams that believe they can't beat the Yankees -- I don't think we're one of them."
There is no doubt how he feels about enriching Red Sox lore by pitching successfully here Tuesday night. He can help erase the Curse of the Bambino by winning in the House That Ruth Built.
"There's just so much history here. You can make a name for yourself in one inning, one play, one pitch that you can't make in another series with any other teams," Schilling said.
Now he has his chance.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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