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Schilling could be done, but Sox are optimistic

In any case, Sox ace will need offseason surgery

NEW YORK -- Boston ace Curt Schilling might not be able to pitch Game 5 of the AL championship series Sunday and needs surgery on his injured right ankle.

Schilling, who led the major leagues with 21 wins, lasted just three innings and 58 pitches in Boston's 10-7 loss to the New York Yankees in Tuesday night's opener, allowing six runs, his poorest postseason performance since 1993. He had trouble with his balance and pushing off the rubber, which cut his velocity.

"We won't send Curt out unless the tendon is stable," general manager Theo Epstein said Wednesday. "We won't compromise the team by sending out a Curt Schilling who won't be effective."

Manager Terry Francona declined to speculate on a replacement in the playoff rotation for Schilling, and said he wanted to see how Schilling's ankle responds in throwing sessions this week.

However, if Schilling can't pitch, he likely would be replaced in the Red Sox rotation by Derek Lowe, a starter all season who struggled down the stretch and has thrown just 12 pitches in relief in the playoffs.

"If we're not able to overcome some adversity," Francona said, "we're not a good enough team."

Team physician Dr. Morgan said before Wednesday's game that the sheath that covers two tendons in Schilling's ankle is torn, allowing one of the tendons to slip out of its groove and rub against a bone. Schilling didn't feel pain while pitching Tuesday because he had an injection of Marcaine, an anesthetic.

The Red Sox are working on a brace to help hold the tendon in place while he pitches. Morgan said the brace that Schilling was wearing Tuesday couldn't hold the tendon. Sox general manager Theo Epstein said the team will work up until game time Sunday to see if Schilling is well enough to pitch.

Morgan was "relatively optimistic" that the ankle could be stabilized.

"We're going to take another shot at it and continue to use every medical technique under the sun to try to get this tendon stabilized so he can go out there again," Morgan said. "We have no guarantees."

Schilling is to throw in the bullpen before Friday's third game. If he doesn't have more success, he probably wouldn't pitch again this year, even if the Red Sox reach the World Series, Morgan said.

"Knowing Curt, he might want to try," Morgan said. "If we can't accomplish getting him his next start, then he has to make a decision if he wants surgery right away."

He suspected that Schilling would delay surgery so he could stay with the team even if he can't pitch. Schilling will need about three months to recover from an operation and should be ready for spring training.   Continued...

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