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Schilling backs own doctor, says medical 'egos' in play

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  February 18, 2008 11:24 AM

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Curt Schilling, who said he held off on addressing his situation because he didn't want to be a distraction but became even more of a story this past week because of his silence, met with a few handpicked reporters in the parking lot this morning after he furtively whispered instructions that they meet him there. The Globe was not among those invited to his private party, but Don Orsillo was, with a NESN camera, and in an interview that will be aired on NESN's Sportsdesk tonight at 10 and is embedded at the top of this blog entry, Schilling left little doubt that he feels the Red Sox have him embarked on the wrong course of medical treatment.

He also disputed any questions about the appropriateness of him collecting on the $8 million contract he signed with the Sox last November, noting that he had passed a physical and MRI.

"Something happened,'' said Schilling, who said he began throwing in mid-December, felt some discomfort, shut down for a couple of weeks, then felt "intense" pain when he resumed throwing in January, far worse than anything he experienced last season, when he was on the disabled list for seven weeks with what was described as biceps tendinitis.

"If some people want to believe this was me taking advantage of the situation financially, I wouldn't be doing it here. I would have done it for $14 million in at least two other places, if I was going to sit on my ass on the DL and collect a paycheck.

"So I know that for a fact. People are going to believe what they want to believe. I was healthy at the time.''

Schilling likened the situation to the first time he had shoulder surgery in 1995, when he said he was misdiagnosed by the Phillies and that a team trainer recommended him to shoulder specialist Dr. Craig Morgan, who performed surgery on Schilling at that time.

"Here I am, 14 years later, and he (Morgan) was right every time,'' Schilling said. "This guy has been cutting edge forever. He's always been way ahead of the bell curve. He's an orthopedic surgeon, but that's like saying he's a major league player. He's Papelbon, a specialist, a shoulder specialist, that's what he does.

"But they (the Red Sox) disagreed. And at the end of the day, I hear one doctor say one thing, another doctor say something different, and a third doctor say something completely different. I'm probably as lost as anybody.''

Schilling's doctor, Morgan, says Schilling needs surgery to repair what he described as the disintegrating biceps tendon in his shoulder. Thomas Gill, the Sox medical director, advised a course of rest and rehabilitation, which began with a cortisone injection and will continue through a regimen of shoulder strengthening exercises before Schilling is even allowed to resume throwing. That could take up to six to eight weeks.

Morgan predicts that Schilling's shoulder will not respond to the injection, that the Sox program has "zero" chance of succeeding and that the only way Schilling gets back on the mound by the All-Star break is if he has the operation.

It became a point of contractual contention when the Sox advised Schilling that he risked voiding his contract if he elected to go ahead and have surgery. Eventually a third doctor was called in, Mets medical director David Altchek, and according to sources Altchek warned that Schilling had a rotator cuff tear that might also require surgery.

"I'm obviously going to fall back on the guy (Morgan) who's already been down this path and who's always been right,'' Schilling said.

"....I immediately jumped on that when no one else was really offering me a difference, a change.''

It was at that point, he said, that the contract became an issue. "I think there was some belief on their end that I was going to go off and do my own thing and have surgery on my own,'' Schilling said, "or something like that. I immediately assured everybody that I was talking to I would never do that, No. 1, and No. 2, I couldn't do it legally, anyway.''

Schilling said he is following the Sox prescribed regimen "because I don't have any choice. If their course of action doesn't work I don't pitch this year, I might not ever pitch again.''

Schilling did not come right out and say the Sox doctors were wrong, but he called their judgment into question this way. "I think there's unspoken here that doctors have egos every bit as much as professional athletes. These are some of the top people in the world at what they do. I had three different doctors tell me three completely different things with three completely different courses of action. I'm obviously going to fall back on the guy who's already been down this path before.''

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