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Schilling again willing, and hopes he's able

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 24, 2004

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Curt Schilling even wonders himself: What can he do for an encore?

After he underwent a radical medical procedure by team physician Bill Morgan, Schilling went out and threw seven sizzling innings in the Sox' 4-2 victory over the Yankees in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, a performance that has reached mythical status.

"I knew if I went out and pitched well, it would be made out to be a much bigger deal than I thought it was or anybody in the clubhouse thought it was," said Schilling, whose loose ankle tendon was sutured out of place, keeping it stable. "But that comes with the territory. You know, it was what it was. I go out [tonight] I've got to do it again [tonight]. I go out [tonight] and don't pony up, then it's all for naught in my mind."

Schilling said before last night's Game 1 against the Cardinals that he was re-stitched by Morgan yesterday and is good to go in Game 2.

"As far as the pain goes, I'm not feeling anything right now," he said. "Today we were not as rushed as we were the first time we did it. So he allowed the painkiller to actually work this time. Talking to Dr. [George] Theodore, who had done some stuff in the NFL and was a foot specialist [at Massachusetts General Hospital], he was fine with it. Once they signed off on it, we really had no other choice.

"I've been in a lot of situations with team doctors who are not like that and probably would not have spent the time away from the field focusing on trying to come up with something, and it says a lot about [Morgan]. He's earned every bit of the accolades he's gotten over the last 10 days, because without him, I would not be out here."

Schilling said there was a little different twist to the stitching procedure yesterday, but "I wouldn't be able to explain it in depth to you. We just did something a little different just to try and make some things not happen that happened the other day."

The new angle in Game 2 might be how the Cardinals approach Schilling. While the Yankees failed to test Schilling's movement with bunts, Schilling thinks Tony La Russa's approach might be to make him make sudden movements that could cause pain or worse.

"I expect them to bunt," he said. "I expect them to try and get me to move off the mound, which we've gotten ready for. I would love to see [Albert] Pujols come down and try to lay down a bunt, or [Jim] Edmonds or [Scott] Rolen. But I certainly expect them to try and push the envelope that way and make things happen, like [La Russa's] always done in the past."

Sox manager Terry Francona has taken the approach that it would be better for the potent Cardinal hitters to bunt.

"If Larry Walker, Pujols, Edmonds want to bunt, please go over and tell them I said, `Go ahead,' " Francona said. "You know what I'm saying? There are some guys that do bunt and we know will bunt. And Schill is actually very good at that stuff. It just might hurt him a little bit, but I don't think they are going to get by by doing things they normally would not do."

Despite being a co-World Series MVP and starting Game 7 for the Diamondbacks vs. the Yankees in the 2001 World Series (Randy Johnson got the win in relief), Schilling says he's hardly a rock before the game starts. He says he will feel the butterflies pitching on the biggest stage, especially for a team that hasn't won it all in 86 years.

"Don't kid yourself, I'm terrified," Schilling said. "That's part of the motivation, the fear of failure. I always felt good players use the fear of failure in a positive way. No one was more nervous than I was before Game 6. Before Game 7 of the World Series, I was nervous as hell. When you succeed and you come through in moments like this, no one can ever question what you're made of.

"I'm proud of the fact that my teammates respect me a little bit more for having done it and having succeeded doing it. And above all else, that's the thing that I take away from it more than anything. They counted on me, and the chips were down, and we did it. We came through that night. I think everybody in that bullpen and dugout was questioning whether it was going to work or not. You know, there were so many things to that night for me. We had nobody left. Nobody else could have started the game because we had nobody rested enough to do it. Not only was I supposed to pitch, but I was supposed to throw innings."

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