ATLANTA -- Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was given a cortisone shot to reduce inflammation in his right shoulder and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list even though an MRI showed no structural damage, according to information disclosed by the pitcher and manager Terry Francona yesterday.
Francona will shuffle his rotation to compensate for Schilling missing his next start, scheduled for Sunday in San Diego. With the Sox having an offday today before opening a three-game series tomorrow night against the Padres, Francona said Josh Beckett will pitch Sunday against San Diego ace Jake Peavy and Julian Tavarez will open the series in Seattle Monday, both pitchers going on regular four days' rest.
The Sox will need a starter Tuesday night, but will add another player, a reliever or position player, from Triple A Pawtucket for the series in San Diego. Among the Pawtucket pitchers likely to be considered to start in Schilling's place Tuesday are lefthanders Jon Lester and Kason Gabbard, and righthanders David Pauley and Devern Hansack.
Lester pitched yesterday for the PawSox and struggled, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks in five innings. He threw 92 pitches, barely half (47) for strikes. Lester admitted that a possible promotion is on his mind.
"I can only concentrate on pitching well here and getting ready to do better in four days," Lester told John Perrotto of the Beaver County (Pa.) Times. "Still, I'm definitely thinking about it. When you've been in the big leagues and pitched in Fenway Park, there's no other place you want to be.
"I feel I'm ready from a physical standpoint, but they are playing so well this season that they don't need any help right now in Boston. With all the hype in Boston and Pawtucket, it's hard to escape thinking about it, but I really can't do anything but take care of business here."
On his outing yesterday, Lester said, "I just wasn't very consistent today. I wasn't able to repeat my delivery. I never really got comfortable, never got into any kind of rhythm. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it. I felt fine from a physical standpoint but I just couldn't throw the ball where I wanted to, especially the breaking ball."
Schilling said on his weekly appearance on WEEI that he believes he has a "touch of tendinitis" in his shoulder, the reason for the cortisone shot. He is to be reevaluated by team medical director Thomas Gill, and the plan is for him to rejoin the club tomorrow in San Diego. The Sox played shorthanded last night, with 24 players; when Schilling is placed on the disabled list tomorrow, it will be retroactive to Tuesday, with Schilling eligible to come off the DL July 4. He would miss two starts.
Customarily, a starting pitcher who has a cortisone shot in the area of the shoulder where Schilling had his is advised to wait five days before he resumes throwing.
"We got injected yesterday and there's a period of time here we have to let it sink in, cool down, and then we go," Schilling said on the "Dennis and Callahan Show."
Dr. Craig Morgan, the Delaware-based orthopedist who performed two operations on Schilling's right shoulder, including one to repair a torn labrum in 1999, spoke with the pitcher Tuesday night, but has not examined him.
Morgan said that in general, when there is no structural damage to the shoulder but an unexplained loss of velocity, like the one Schilling exhibited here against the Braves Monday night (most of his fastballs were in the mid-80s), doctors look at three things. "They check for weakness in the muscles around the scapula [shoulder blade]," Morgan said. "They look for weakness in the stride-foot hip, which for a righthanded pitcher is the left hip, and they look for any loss of internal rotation in the throwing shoulder."
Problems in any of those three areas can be addressed, he said, by strengthening or stretching, or both.
Depending on how Schilling progresses, the Sox conceivably could have him miss a third start and keep him inactive until after the All-Star break, which would give him at least 22 days off. But no one in an official capacity said that is under consideration.
This will be the 10th time Schilling has gone on the disabled list, the first since 2005, when he went on twice with ankle injuries.
Schilling said the symptoms he felt Monday were similar to those he experienced in 1995, minus the pain.
"The scary part was the similarities in the innings," Schilling said. "When I tore my labrum in 1995, I was throwing the ball 95 miles per hour one inning, and the next thing I went out and I was throwing the ball 82 m.p.h. and I didn't have any pain until the next day. The other night, that's exactly what happened. I could not throw the ball. I could not get anything on the baseball. I was throwing the ball 82 m.p.h., and fortunately, I didn't wake up the next day with the pain, so there's none of that. That was an eerie similarity that was playing on my head pretty severely there."