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Schilling receives House call

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Curt Schilling is one of seven players invited by a US House of Representatives committee to testify under oath March 17 about steroid use in baseball.

Virginia republican Tom Davis, chair of the House Government Reform Committee, and California democrat Henry Waxman, the ranking democrat on the committee, organized the hearing. No one has been subpoenaed, according to the Associated Press, though the committee does have the power to subpoena.

"I don't know, as far as whether I will or won't [attend]," Schilling said yesterday. "I don't think I have a lot to offer on the issue to begin with, other than my opinion, which is always been what I've offered. We'll see."

The committee invited players and executives. The player panel is Schilling, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, and Frank Thomas. The executives are commissioner Bud Selig, Major League Baseball executive vice president Sandy Alderson, union executive director Donald Fehr, and Padres GM Kevin Towers.

Schilling, asked why he made the list, said, "I have some ideas. There's reasons I think, some people that I know that I'm friends with."

He didn't name names, other than to say he knows President Bush and other politicians.

After speaking with Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, Thursday night, Schilling believes the decision to attend will be his to make.

"[Orza said] it was up to me whether I wanted to do this or not," Schilling said. "I will talk to my lawyer and see exactly how and why and what it would involve."

Asked if any good can come of the hearing, Schilling said: "Depends what it's for. If this is a McCarthy witch hunt all over again, then no. Again, I don't know any of the specifics around what it entails and what's going on."

Schilling said the other players' decisions wouldn't affect his.

Old college try
Five Red Sox pitchers -- Tim Wakefield (two innings, three strikeouts), John Halama, Jack Cressend, Jason Kershner, and Scott Cassidy -- combined to no-hit Northeastern University yesterday in a seven-inning, 17-0 win. The Sox sent 17 batters to the plate in the fifth inning, scoring 12 runs on seven hits. With two outs in the sixth, the Sox pinch hit Ron Johnson for Dave McCarty. That would be Triple A manager Ron Johnson, who turns 49 later this month. Johnson, according to baseball-reference.com, played his last big league game June 22, 1984, with Montreal.

The Huskies changed pitchers before the at-bat, bringing in Brookline's Aaron Greenblatt to face Johnson. One of the warmup pitches sailed to the backstop.

"That about finished me off right there," said Johnson, who struck out swinging.

Terry Francona said he hit Johnson to hasten the proceedings.

"The last thing we'll ever do is be disrespectful to anyone," the Sox skipper said.

Francona's lineup for NU posted the night before the game had David Ortiz hitting third and Manny Ramirez fourth.

"That was a mistake, all it was," Francona said.

Ramirez hit third yesterday, Ortiz fourth. But that isn't carved in stone for the season.

"To be perfectly honest with you, I'm going to let that play out for a little while, because I just don't know what suits us best," the manager said. "I know they both want to hit third. I need to sit down and figure out how I feel about it. And I care how they feel about it, too."

Practice session
David Wells threw batting practice at the minor league complex. He will make his first start a week from today against Tampa Bay at City of Palms Park . . . Sox principal owner John W. Henry missed the annual committee meetings with his Sox partners yesterday because of illness. He hopes to be present today when the partners reconvene. "Fever finally broke this morning," Henry reported yesterday via e-mail. The illness prevented Henry, who campaigned for John Kerry, from visiting the White House Wednesday. "I would have loved to have been there, contrary to a lot of suppositions," Henry said . . . Ramirez skipped the workout and White House visit, because it was said he was visiting an ill grandmother Wednesday. That rationale, provided by Johnny Damon, was met with skepticism in this space Thursday. However, the excuse checked out. Ramirez's grandmother, according to club officials, is indeed ailing . . . Boston College put up much more a fight than Northeastern in the nightcap, losing, 11-5. BC had five runs, five hits, and five errors. Manny Delcarmen gave up all five runs on three hits, two walks, and a wild pitch in one-third of an inning . . . Matt Mantei struck out three, walked one, and allowed a single in his Sox debut, pitching the third inning. Mantei said he's throwing without pain or hesitation and foresees no health issues . . . Nonroster invitee Billy McMillon has had a tough two days. The leftfielder fell while tracking a bounding ball Thursday against the Twins and fell again running down a roller against BC. He later left the game in the fifth inning after throwing a ball back to the infield following a two-run double by BC first baseman Jared McGuire. Francona said McMillon suffered a partial dislocation of his left shoulder when he fell last night, then further hurt himself on the throwing play. He will undergo an MRI today . . . The two games yesterday drew a combined 15,046 . . . McCarty has pitched on the side this spring, but Francona would prefer he focus on first base . . . The Sox play split squad games today at 1:05 p.m. at the Twins (Fort Myers) and 6:05 p.m. at the Reds (Sarasota). Anastacio Martinez will start against the Twins, Bronson Arroyo against the Reds.

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