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Doctors checking Schilling

MRI results normal; more tests due today

ATLANTA -- An MRI taken on Curt Schilling's right shoulder in Boston was normal yesterday, the day after Schilling endured perhaps his worst start of the season against the Braves at Turner Field.

Schilling did not have pain in his shoulder, according to a club source, supporting manager Terry Francona's contention that Schilling did not complain of pain after giving up six runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings Monday night, looking so out of sorts that Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones wondered after the game whether the righthander was hurt.

Schilling, who returned to Boston yesterday and was examined by team medical director Thomas Gill, was expected to undergo more tests today. Although the team source said shutting Schilling down is expected to be one option discussed, that may mean missing no more than one start. Schilling is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon in San Diego against Padres ace Jake Peavy.

The only information Francona divulged after last night's game was that Schilling would spend the next two days working with rehabilitation coordinator Scott Waugh, then would be reevaluated Friday.

"The ball didn't come out of his hand too well," Francona said. "Since he's not in a position of having to play today, Tom and all those guys familiar with him, let him get looked at. Just feel better about it. It seems like we wouldn't be doing our due diligence, and it just seems like it makes sense to do that."

In Monday's 9-4 loss, Schilling threw only one fastball that exceeded 90 miles per hour, a 91-m.p.h. pitch to Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded in the fourth. For much of the night, his velocity hovered in the mid-80s, with one veteran scout likening the outing to "throwing batting practice" and Jones speculating that Schilling had to be hurt to have such a dramatic drop in velocity.

Francona noted Schilling's age, 40, as a possible contributing cause.

"His shoulder, he was having trouble getting loose," Francona said. "With all the humidity last night, I thought it'd be easy. He didn't complain about pain or anything. The ball just wasn't coming out.

"When you're Schill's age, with those types of innings he's pitched, I don't think he's ever going to feel 18 years old again. I'll bet if you ask any pitcher, three or four parts of their body hurt. Ask Wake [Tim Wakefield, also 40]. These guys are old. That's the way it is.

"[But] that was a tough night. I was kind of squirming the whole game. It was uncomfortable for me."

Schilling threw a one-hitter against the Athletics in Oakland June 7. In the ninth inning of that game, he threw a 95-m.p.h. fastball to Shannon Stewart, the pitch that Stewart hit for a single to break up the no-no. He has lost both starts since then, allowing 19 hits and 12 runs (11 earned) in 9 1/3 innings, with 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting .442 against him in those two starts.

Monday night, Schilling did not strike out a batter; he had gone 378 consecutive starts since July 1, 1993, with at least one strikeout.

"It's embarrassing," Schilling said after the game. "I never gave us a chance. I want to walk around the room and apologize to everybody -- the manager, teammates, fans. There's no excuse for a game like that to play out the way it did."

Schilling has been most dissatisfied with his inconsistency this season.

He has made five starts in which he has allowed five earned runs or more, for an ERA of 8.89. In his other 10 starts, he has allowed just 18 earned runs in 68 innings, an ERA of 2.38.

"My goal has always been to be consistent and give the team innings, and I've been as far from that as you can be, and that's frustrating," he said Monday. "What I'm doing is not working. I'm not executing. It's not just one thing. It's a combination of a lot of different things. To pinpoint one thing probably would be wrong."

Is the loss of velocity on his fastball affecting his confidence?

"I'm not pitching well," he said. "That's what chisels away at your confidence, when you suck. Especially with this team, you can go out and not throw well and still win games. I didn't give us a chance."

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