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Minor rumblings, but Schilling ready

INDIANAPOLIS -- Barring a David Wells-like accident (he cut himself with a wine glass and landed on the disabled list last season) or a Dustin Hermanson-like incident (he wiped out in his kitchen in 2002, leading to an elbow infection), Curt Schilling will be on the mound Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Schilling's ankle is healed, his pitch count is over 100, and he's scheduled to pitch against the Yankees, probably opposite Jaret Wright.

The only bugaboo is what played out here yesterday, on a misty afternoon in the Pawtucket Red Sox season opener. Schilling allowed seven runs on 11 hits, two of them home runs, in six innings in Pawtucket's 7-5 loss to the Indianapolis Indians, Pittsburgh's Triple A team. He struck out six and walked none.

Last season he never allowed more than seven runs. He gave up seven on two occasions -- April 22 at Toronto in 7 2/3 innings and July 23 vs. the Yankees in 5 1/3 innings.

The difficulty, as it often is with tuneups of this kind, is how to decipher those totals. Whom and what to believe? Your eyes, your ears, the stat sheet? Or nothing? Tim Wakefield lasted just two-thirds of an inning (6 hits, 2 walks, 6 earned runs) in his final spring outing at Arizona, then held the Yankees to three hits in 6 2/3 innings Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.

Schilling's interpretation: "The performance and the way I felt were at opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm not pleased. I gave up seven runs on 11 hits. There's nothing to be pleased about. But physically I don't have any questions in my mind about how I'm going to do or how I'm going to feel. I'm ready to go."

Schilling's command was not what it was two appearances ago, when he pitched against this team in an exhibition at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla. That day, Schilling painted the outside corner to righthanded hitters with encouraging accuracy in an empty stadium.

Yesterday, he was a few inches off on a few key pitches before an announced crowd of 10,150 at Victory Field (capacity, 15,696), though the stadium was less than half full.

He allowed a homer on an 0-and-1 fastball to the second batter of the game, Edwards Guzman, who has four career major league home runs. In the third, he gave up another solo shot, to Ryan Doumit, who has 32 career minor league home runs and no major league experience. Both were fastballs.

Schilling allowed four runs on five hits in the second inning. He was tagged for a leadoff double crushed to right-center, then four singles sandwiched around a strikeout. In the fifth he fell behind 3 and 1 and allowed a leadoff triple he later referred to as a single, presumably because left fielder Chip Ambres took what looked like a bad angle to the ball. That runner later scored for the seventh Indianapolis run.

"I look back on four [pitches]," Schilling said. "The two home runs were both pitches I threw in the spot I wanted to throw them. It comes from not knowing the hitters. The double in my mind was the one real mistake I made. The 3-and-1 fastball the other way on a single was a pitch I threw in a spot behind in the count. I felt a lot better than the numbers."

Schilling threw either 103 or 104 pitches, and either 76 or 77 for strikes. The count here was 103, as it was on pitching coach Dave Wallace's counter. But, Schilling said, "He can't count."

Either way, some of his innings were taxing. He needed 30 pitches to get out of the second, in which Indianapolis scored four times, and 23 pitches in the fifth.

"We talked before the game about how some innings are easy, some aren't," said Wallace, who traveled here with Schilling and assistant trainer Chris Correnti. "He didn't have very many easy innings. That was good to get through that from a physical standpoint."

Mist fell during the second inning, Schilling's most laborious, though he said, "weather wasn't an issue" with his surgically repaired right ankle.

"The ankle is not an issue on the field," he said, "but I do feel a difference in weather. The other day [during a side session] I was just stiff in New York and I was wondering why after all these weeks it's gotten kind of stiff. It dawned on me, it's a lot colder than it is in Florida. It's something we have to pay attention to."

Asked if he feels ready for Wednesday, Schilling said, "It doesn't matter how I feel. It's coming. I was talking to Timmy Wakefield after the Arizona situation. He was not happy."

Schilling's velocity, though, was not all that overpowering. He was routinely 87-90 miles per hour early in the game before touching 93 on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning.

On his velocity, Schilling said, "In the bullpen I felt fantastic. I don't know that I was as live out there during the game.

"I feel like I've stretched it out. No fatigue. I didn't feel my stuff got any worse or my location any worse.

"I feel sharpness-wise I'm as ready as I've ever been at the end of spring training."

He certainly sounded sharp when he was asked the difference between this start and his debut last season.

"Going into my first start?" Schilling said. "No different. Obviously, the dynamics are different. We won't be 0-1 in my first start this year."

Zing. Pedro Martinez, of course, lost the opener at Baltimore last season.

Think Schilling's ready?

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