BALTIMORE -- The way Terry Francona described it, Curt Schilling was on his way to lunch yesterday when the Red Sox manager officially informed him he would start Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
"He said, `OK,' " Francona recalled. "He was on his way to the food room, so I think he had other priorities."
The fact was, Schilling already knew he was starting Game 1 Tuesday in Minnesota, Anaheim, or Oakland, depending on how those teams fare this weekend. He knew it from following news accounts in Boston. And he wasn't particularly pleased with the reports, which he interpreted as the media turning a straightforward baseball decision into an unnecessary controversy involving Pedro Martinez, who will start Game 2.
"It's disappointing to see it be made into a lot different issue than it should be with regards to the other guys on the staff," Schilling said before the Sox beat the Orioles, 8-3, at Camden Yards. "We clinched and the first thing everybody wanted to know was what Petey thought about who was pitching Game 1. A lot of you guys were trying to make a situation out of something that wasn't."
To put things in perspective, Schilling noted that when the Diamondbacks won the world championship in 2001, he started Game 1 of both the Division Series and the World Series, with Randy Johnson, a surefire Hall of Famer, starting Game 2 of each series.
"I started Game 1 and I had a five-time Cy Young Award winner in the same rotation," Schilling said. "No one ever said a word. That's petty stuff. It's stuff that's such a non-factor and it should be a non-factor. This is about us trying to win a World Series."
Schilling said he spoke with Martinez before the Sox settled on a Game 1 starter and the two agreed to keep the best interests of the team their top priority.
"Both of us said the same thing: Whoever it was going to be, the other guy was going to be pulling as hard as he could for him," Schilling said. "That's what this is about. There are so fewer personal agendas here than people are led to believe. If anybody has a personal agenda with whether they're starting or playing or this or that, then they're missing the whole point of us being here."
Martinez, without being asked about the postseason rotation, volunteered to reporters after Wednesday's game in Tampa Bay that the Sox had informed him that he would start Game 2. He said he had asked to be told the decision, and he offered the news in explaining why he had balked at Francona lifting him after only four innings of a subpar start against the Devil Rays. He said he needed the extra work since he would not pitch for another week. Game 2 is Wednesday.
After last night's victory, the Sox said Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield would pitch Games 3 and 4 (if necessary), but did not say which pitcher would start which game.
Martinez was highly complimentary of Schilling when asked for his reaction to the news.
"Without a doubt, he deserves to be the No. 1 starter," Martinez said. "I hope he performs just like he has. You guys need to respect that guy. He's been better than Pedro Martinez and better than anyone on our team."
Schilling said he was honored to receive the start and pleased by Martinez's support.
"We both understand what's at stake," Schilling said. "It's a lot bigger than either one of our egos. It's a lot bigger than anybody's ego in this clubhouse. Hopefully everybody understands that."
The decision itself hardly seemed controversial since Schilling finished the season much stronger than Martinez, going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA in September while Martinez went 2-4 with a 4.95 ERA in the month.
Martinez was so self-deprecating after losing in Tampa Bay, just five days after calling the Yankees his daddy (a remark he said he uttered in frustration and put behind him), that he said, "I should actually pitch No. 5 or not even pitch in the playoffs if I continue to pitch the way I have."
Francona dismissed any concern about Martinez.
"Do you think he sometimes kind of baits people a little bit?" Francona asked.
"Like rope-a-dope?" a reporter asked.
"Thank you," Francona said. "I guess my point is, he's going to get the ball in Game 2. I'm really OK with that. I mean really OK. What happened in Tampa Bay and [against] New York is going to be so far in the rearview mirror."
When he was pressed on why he maintained such confidence in Martinez, Francona said Martinez's career spoke for itself.
When he was further pressed, the manager said, "I would take his career over [making] one comment. The flip side is, I could come out and say, `He's had a couple of bad starts, so we're not going to start him.' That would go over good."
The bottom line, Francona said, is that "he's Pedro Martinez, he's had a couple of bad starts, we're going to pitch him in Game 2, and he's probably going to do really, really good. That's how I feel."
Schilling, who will open the Division Series on eight days' rest, has fared considerably better this year with additional rest. He has gone 8-4 with a 3.84 ERA on four days' rest and 13-2 with a 2.61 ERA on five days' rest or more. The only time this season he worked on eight days' rest, Schilling pitched a complete game July 3, scattering six hits and a walk in defeating the Braves, 6-1, in Atlanta.
"Pitching late in the season in a pennant race and going into the postseason is not about pitching well," he said. "It's about pitching great and playing great. If you don't step it up a little bit, you tend to go home earlier than other teams. That's one of the things I try to take a lot of pride in."
Schilling, in his final tuneup, threw in the bullpen and then pitched to Sox hitters before last night's game. He also is working with Craig Friedman, a trainer from the Athletes Performance Institute, and the Sox training staff to stay sharp.
"I feel phenomenal," he said. "We're going to do the little things we need to do. I'm comfortable and confident that I'll be [fine] on Tuesday."