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Schilling set to stitch together a win10/23/2004 8:06 PM ET
By Jim Street / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Curt Schilling has the heart of lion but only one good ankle, which makes him think he could be seeing more bunts than usual Sunday night when he faces the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series.
"I expect them to bunt, absolutely," the Red Sox right-hander said Saturday. "I expect them to try to get me to move off the mound, push the envelope a little, and make things happen."
Then came the Schilling caveat.
"I would love to see [Albert] Pujols come up and try to lay down a bunt," he said. "Or [Jim] Edmonds. Or [Scott] Rolen."
The middle of the Cardinals' powerful lineup doesn't figure to change tactics against a gimpy -- but game -- Schilling. But even the speedsters should be aware of the veteran's fielding prowess.
"There are some guys that do bunt and we know will bunt," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of the National League champs. "We'll just pinch in a little more (at first and third base). And Schill is very good at that stuff (fielding his position). He might hurt a little bit."
A tendon in Schilling's right ankle is so out of whack that he needs postseason surgery to make it healthy again. In the meantime, he is getting the tendon sutured to keep it in place, a procedure that takes about 10 minutes.
That was the solution Red Sox team doctor Bill Morgan came up with after Schilling pitched so poorly and painfully in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees that he basically was ruled out for the remainder of that series, and possibly even the World Series if the Red Sox made it that far without him.
The doctor decided that a sutured tendon worked better than a high-top shoe that Schilling had worn during a bullpen throwing session and the bloody procedure worked so well that some are calling it a medical miracle.
"Dr. Morgan has earned every bit of the accolades he has received because without him I wouldn't be out here," said Schilling, who pitched brilliantly in beating the Yankees in Game 6 and setting up the finale of the greatest comeback in MLB postseason history.
Schilling was pain-free prior to Game 1 on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
"As far as pain goes, I'm not feeling any right now," he said. "We did it again today and weren't as rushed today as the first time we did it. He allowed the pain-killer to actually work this time."
There is no guarantee Schilling will pitch as well against the Cardinals in the World Series as he did in the next-to-last game of the ALCS. But Schilling and the Red Sox knew that without a stable tendon, he would be curtains for the remainder of the postseason.
"When (Dr. Morgan) came to me, I mean, we were out of options," Schilling said. "I was not going to be able to pitch Game 6. That was clear. I was not going to go out there feeling the way I felt in Game 1. When he explained it to me, it made total sense. Whether it had ever been done or not was not really relevant to me at that point."
Schilling, a 21-game winner during the regular season, was rocked in the ALCS opener, lasting just three innings in a 10-7 defeat, the first of three consecutive losses in the best-of-seven series.
The Red Sox already had pulled off two win-or-else victories over the Yankees and needed a starting pitcher for Game 6.
Schilling delivered in a huge way, pitching seven superb innings in Boston's 4-2 victory that prolonged the historical series and allowed the AL Wild Card team to become the first team in MLB playoff history to win a series it once trailed three games to none.
"I'm proud of the fact that my teammates respect me a little bit more for having done it and having succeeded doing it," he said. "And above all else, that's the thing that I take away from that more than anything. They counted on me, and the chips were down, and we did it. We came through that night.
"That's the thing I'll take away from that. I think everybody in that dugout and bullpen was questioning whether it was going to work or not."
Including Dr. Morgan.
"I didn't breathe for nine innings," Morgan told the Boston Globe.
"You know, there were so many things to that night for me," Schilling said. "We had nobody left. No one else could have started that game because we had nobody rested enough to do it.
"Not only was I supposed to pitch, but I was supposed to throw innings. So it was not a matter of competing, it was a matter of going out and being in the game beyond the third or fourth inning. And we did that. When you care about your teammates enough, you do things that you never thought you could do."
The co-Most Valuable Player of the the 2001 World Series, when he helped the Diamondbacks win that organization's first Fall Classic, Schilling has become the talk of this town because of what he did in New York.
Francona, though, is taking the whole thing in stride.
"To be honest with you, there isn't too much I ask him," the Red Sox's first-year manager said. "I'm not sure I really want to know. He's going to pitch, and whether he's in pain or not, it's up to him to handle it.
"I'm very confident he will handle it. This is the time of year we know he's going to pitch, so we'll just go about it."
Regardless of how the ankle feels, Schilling faces a lineup that he calls "the best I have seen this year and probably the best lineup since the World Series in 2001."
He said he watched Game 7 of the NLCS on television and paid special attention to how Roger Clemens pitched against the Cards lineup.
"I got to see what worked and what didn't, and that's what I have been doing most of the day," Schilling said. "I'll finalize a game plan tonight. It's not going to be an easy task."
But what an encore it would be.
"I knew if I went out and pitched well (against the Yankees), it would be made out to be a much bigger deal than I ever thought it was," he said. "But I have to do it again tomorrow. If I don't pony up, then it's all for naught in my mind."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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