Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said on Wednesday that “former members of the organization” presented him with the option of using performance-enhancing drugs as a way to overcome the shoulder injury that ended his career.
According to Schilling, the incident occurred in the clubhouse during the 2008 season. Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino said he was “surprised” by the news.
“Certainly is something to look into, but it came from out of left field, to use a baseball cliché,” Lucchino told reporters at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.
Schilling, who works for ESPN as an analyst, made the accusations on ESPN Radio.
“At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in, in which it was brought to my attention that this is a potential path I might want to pursue," Schilling said on ESPN Radio.
Schilling was asked to identify who made that suggestion.
“No,” he said. “Former members of the organization. They’re no longer there.
“It was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren't in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation. And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not? What did I have to lose? Because if I wasn't going to get healthy; it didn't matter. And if I did get healthy, great.
“It caught me off guard, to say the least. That was an awkward situation.”
Schilling has so far not responded to a request to be further interviewed. But he responded to a Twitter user who asked why he wouldn’t expose somebody who suggested he use drugs banned by Major League Baseball.
“Because outing the person would not do anything for anyone. It wasn't anyone in uniform, nor the baseball ops group,” Schilling wrote.
Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the Red Sox general manager in 2008, could not be reached for comment.
Schilling signed a one-year, $8 million contract before the 2008 season and passed a physical. But he never pitched because of a torn rotator cuff and biceps injury.
There was a dispute at the time about what course of action to take. Dr. Thomas Gill, the Red Sox medical director at the time, advised a course of rest and rehabilitation. Dr. Craig Morgan, who had twice previously operated on Schilling’s shoulder, suggested another surgery.
A third party, Mets team physician Dr. David Altchek, agreed with Gil. Because Schilling was 41, the thought was that surgery would mean the end of his career.
After trying the team approach for nearly five months, Schilling had surgery in June and it did end his career. The righthander announced his retirement on March 24, 2009.