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Schilling undergoes surgery
11/09/2004 5:45 PM ET

Curt Schilling walks away following a news conference in Blue Bell, Pa., on Nov. 1, 2004. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Curt Schilling underwent the long-planned and much-needed surgery on his right ankle on Tuesday. It was a three-hour procedure that reconstructed the ruptured sheath that houses the peroneal tendon in the ankle.

"The three-hour procedure proceeded as planned, with no complications," said Red Sox team doctor Bill Morgan, who assisted during the surgery, in a statement.

Dr. George Theodore, an independent foot specialist from Mass. General Hospital who Schilling and the Sox consulted with heavily over the last few weeks, led the surgery.

Schilling's ankle and foot will be immobilized for approximately a month, according to the Associated Press. He will require roughly six weeks of rehab.

If there are no setbacks, Schilling should be ready to go when pitchers and catchers of the World Series champion Red Sox report to Fort Myers, Fla., in mid-February for the start of Spring Training.

The Red Sox stated on Oct. 13 that Schilling would need surgery on the ankle whenever the season ended.

At that time, it was unknown if Schilling would be able to pitch again during the postseason. But thanks to a breakthrough medical procedure led by Morgan, the medical staff sutured the loose tendon, keeping it in place well enough for Schilling to be able to pitch effectively in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

The sutures were removed after Game 6, and then re-inserted the day before he pitched Game 2 of the World Series against the Cardinals.

With his tendon literally being held together by thread, Schilling allowed a total of one earned run over 13 innings in those final two starts of the postseason, both of which were wins.

That tendon was pushed back into its proper place during the surgery.

Schilling did develop some infection and irritation from the suture treatment, which is why the surgery didn't occur until 16 days after his last pitch of the season.

For the majority of the first half, Schilling pitched with a deep bone bruise in his right ankle, something that required him to take a numbing agent called Marcaine before and during almost every start.

While he got over that injury in the second half, he suffered an entirely separate right ankle ailment late in September -- the one that eventually caused the sheath to rupture.

Schilling was able to beat the Angels with a strong performance in Game 1 of the Division Series, but had several awkward landings while fielding that day, forcing the injury to get even worse.

He tried to pitch Game 1 of the ALCS with a specially designed brace supporting his ankle, but the results were not good. With no ability to push off, Schilling was roughed up for six hits and six runs over three innings.

The only reason Schilling was able to pitch again after that nightmarish night -- aside from the suture treatment -- was the fact the Red Sox were able to rally back from a 3-0 series deficit.

Blood seeped into Schilling's right sock during those last two starts, leaving a visual of pitching through pain that Red Sox fans will long remember.

When the Red Sox celebrated their World Series title on the field of Busch Stadium the night of Oct. 27, Schilling made it clear that the sacrifice he made with his health was well worth it.

"I've just started to enjoy it. I would imagine after the hangover and the parade, I'm going to wake up and have a healed foot and a big, fat ring on my finger," said Schilling.

Thanks to his 21-6 record and 3.26 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox, Schilling is one of the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young Award, which will be announced on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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