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Piniella keeps swinging

He's still fuming over comments

The Curt Schilling-Lou Piniella feud rose to new heights yesterday when the Tampa Bay manager called a team meeting to discuss comments Schilling made Tuesday on the "Dennis and Callahan" radio show. Schilling said on WEEI that during Sunday's bench-clearing incidents in Tampa Bay, "Players on that team are saying, `This is why we lose a hundred games a year, because this idiot [meaning Piniella] makes us do stuff like this.' "

Schilling also said Piniella is "a manager who somehow forgot how the game is played." Piniella shot back in yesterday's St. Petersburg Times with comments that also ran in the Globe. But that wasn't the end of it.

Piniella, in a three-paragraph statement issued yesterday, said, "Forget how the game is played? I have forgotten more baseball than this guy knows. He talks about making our players tough guys. Well, we do that quite well here but we don't do it by advocating fighting or throwing at opposing hitters. I don't know how many meetings I have had with my pitching coach on this subject.

"The problem is, Curt has a short memory. He doesn't remember when he was a young pitcher. We have a lot of young pitchers here and they're trying to learn to pitch at the big-league level. Our kids are learning to pitch inside and they have to do that to survive up here. Nobody here wants anyone hit, believe me.

"On the idiot subject, I'm appalled he would actually say something like that. I had a meeting with my team and to a man they denied it. He's questioning my character and integrity, and that is wrong. He's never played for me, never really spoken to me, so he really doesn't know what I stand for or don't stand for. If I were Curt, I would be really embarrassed at the cheap shot he took and get the story correct. I'll tell you I've always admired his pitching ability and competitiveness, but I can honestly tell you I've lost a lot of respect for him. I'm looking forward to talking to Curt myself and get this matter cleared up."

Devil Rays reliever Trever Miller told the St. Petersburg Times yesterday that Schilling was yapping incessantly during one of the bench-clearing incidents.

"You couldn't hear anybody else over Schilling," Miller said. "He was berating our manager, our ownership, all the way to our waterboys. He was kind of contradicting himself yelling at us and telling us how to play the game when he's going out there stirring the pot and being immature about it. So I find that ironic and pretty sad, especially for a guy that has all that time in the game."

Piniella told the Times that he's communicated with the Red Sox organization and, "I was told that Curt would call me. I'll be happy to pick up the phone if that's what it takes."

Sprain explained
David Wells's "right foot sprain," in actuality, is a sprain of the plantar fascia ligament on the bottom of his foot. General manager Theo Epstein confirmed as much yesterday, two days after Wells left a game against Baltimore after 3 2/3 innings.

Epstein, asked whether Wells was injured before Monday night, said, "Not to this extent, but they were managing some minor issues."

The plantar fascia is three ligaments that run between the heel and the toes on the bottom of the foot. Commonly, the plantar fascia is referenced when a player has plantar fasciitis, which is an inflammation of the plantar fascia. The team has been extremely guarded with medical details, but it could be that Wells was battling some degree of plantar fasciitis and has now sprained the ligament.

Wells, asked yesterday if he had a moment to talk, said, "No," snickered, and walked away.

Manager Terry Francona on Tuesday pegged Wells's shelf time at 4-6 weeks.

Epstein's estimate: "He's essentially three weeks of immobilization. Our doctors are confident that the type of injury he has usually heals within that time frame. How long it will take him to get back up on the mound [depends upon] how his foot feels and how much he's able to keep his arm in shape.

"He's usually a pretty quick healer. We'll see how he feels. At the very least it's going to be a little more than three weeks."

Wells was put on the disabled list last season after cutting himself on a wine glass and severing a tendon in his right (non-throwing) wrist. The plantar fascia sprain, however, stands to be something that could bother Wells over a longer period.

While Schilling will travel with the team and do his rehab on the road, Wells will stay behind.

"David needs to stay back," Francona said. "The rehab is a little bit different."

Rain reigns
The Sox waited until 2:14 p.m. before giving up hope of playing a game scheduled for 1:05 against Baltimore. The finale of the three-game series will be made up June 2 at 1:05 p.m. Tickets for yesterday's game may be used June 2, the club announced. The rainout, the Sox' first of the season, gave the weary team two days off and was a benefit to the pitching staff. Had the Sox played yesterday they would have needed to call up a starting pitcher for Saturday's game. Now, they don't need someone new, probably Triple A righthander Jeremi Gonzalez, until Tuesday. The club boarded a 4 p.m. bus yesterday taking them to the airport for a flight to Texas . . . Kevin Millar's wife, Jeanna, gave birth by Caesarian section to twins yesterday, a boy at 8:39 a.m. and a girl at 8:40. The boy, Kashten Charles, weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces, while the girl, whose name probably will be Kylie Faith, was 4 pounds 11 ounces. "It went as good as it can go," Millar said. "I didn't look as much as I should have. That's the one thing I regret. I was too scared." Millar said he won't stop riding his Harleys but has promised his wife that he'll begin wearing a helmet now that he's a dad. "Lose two starting pitchers, gain two babies," Epstein said in a rare moment of Sox humor yesterday. Added Francona, "Our life's changing, and so is Millar's." . . . Dr. William Morgan, the former Sox medical director who performed the novel suturing procedure on Schilling's ankle during the 2004 postseason, was in the clubhouse yesterday. Approached, Morgan contended he was "just visiting," but it's known that Schilling has continued to consult with him . . . The Sox' top prospect, Hanley Ramirez, left Tuesday's game with Double A Portland with a left calf injury. Ramirez will only miss a few days, Epstein said.


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