Curt Schilling touched on a lot of topics during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio station WEEI this morning, including the changes he’s going to make this off-season, the six-man rotation possibility, Mike Lowell’s situation, and his thoughts on starting the season in Japan.
On opening the season in Japan …
“I’m all for a 13-hour flight around the world to…,” Schilling said sarcastically regarding the news that the Sox will open the 2008 slate in the Far East. “You know what, it’s one of those things, we had a meeting last week, and the players spoke, and most of the players … it wasn’t that we didn’t want to go, it’s that we’ve heard enough to know, and I’ve been over there on tours to know that it does have an impact on the season. They’re trying to build in safeguards around it, and if they can do that, from a travel standpoint, it’s a great idea.
“I’m not going to pitch over there, so I’m going to have fun, but this is definitely going to present a challenge, and the one thing I know is this organization will do everything it can to make sure we’re rested and ready to go when it kicks off for real, but this is a little different gig.
“And I know they’re counting on [Daisuke Matsuzaka] and [Hideki] Okajima, and I know Dice-K’s wife is expected to have a baby around that time, and if that happens, I would imagine that we’d go to Japan without the most famous Japanese name on the planet with us.”
On coming into next season in good shape …
“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” said Schilling, who said he woke up around 4:30 a.m. for a short run yesterday, and ran again this morning. “You can’t diet. There’s just no chance of that happening.”
Schilling, who turns 41 years old today, will receive a bonus of up to $2 million if he meets goals at six different weigh-ins. He said he wasn’t sure when the first Red Sox weigh-in was, but he said the goals were doable.
“I knew that this was going to have to be something I did anyway, given where I’m at in my life, my career, and so I figured if I’m going to do it, and I can squeak some money in and get paid to do it, then why not.”
“The motivation is pride anyway,” Schilling said. “I’m at a point in time where I can’t afford to. I can’t carry that extra weight.”
Schilling who said he weighs between 235-237 pounds, doesn’t think he’s too far away from the reaching the weight goal.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get down because I’m certainly not going to want to gamble $2 million on being six ounces under,” Schilling said. “So I need to lose … I want to get back down to 220-225 pounds.”
“The other component to this is putting on some bulk and some muscle in some areas that I need to,” Schilling said. “And that’s going to be a challenge, is to put that extra muscle on and lose weight, that doesn’t usually happen.”
“The motivation is not to make the 2 million bucks as much as it is to change my lifestyle and be around for my kids when they graduate [from] college.”
Schilling talked about the irregular eating hours during the season which has the team playing baseball at 7 p.m. most nights while most people are home having dinner.
“The challenge a lot of times is not on what you eat, it’s when, and how, and when you’re eating dinner at 11:30 at night… and then you get into the off-season and try to get into a regular routine which bears no resemblance to what you’re going to be doing February to October.”
Schilling wrote more about his new off-season program and routine that he hopes will regain him 4-5 miles per hour on his fastball next season in an update on his blog yesterday as well.
On his Cy Young bonus clause …
On Schilling’s Cy Young bonus (he gets $1 million if he gets even a single Cy Young vote), the returning Sox veteran said he wouldn’t take the money if he received a vote he thought he didn’t deserve.
“But the fact of the matter is this, if somebody throws me a bone in a vote that I don’t deserve, I won’t take that money,” Schilling said. “If I get a Cy Young vote, that means I’ve had a pretty damn good season, and barring that, I wouldn’t subject myself or somebody else to that kind of a scrutiny or situation.”
On what else was out there …
If Schilling had not re-signed with the Sox, he said he would have had lucrative contracts to consider, both one- and two-year deals, on the free-agent market.
“I knew that there a couple of offers in the $14 million-$16 million range for a year. I know that there was at least one, and I believe two teams that were very comfortable giving me a two-year deal, in the upper 20s to 30 [million dollars]. But none of those situations were this one.”
Schilling said he understood that with the amount of time he’s spent on the disabled list the last three seasons, the Red Sox needed protection for the current contract.
“In the back of my mind there’s a sense of that I’m indebted a little bit and that I spent four years getting paid an exorbitant amount of money, and I really feel like I had one season that I really, truly earned it, and I’m OK with that,” Schilling said.
A six-man rotation?
Schilling talked about the possibilities of implementing the six-man rotation next season.
“I think this is one of the few opportunities that would ever present itself to an organization both talent-wise and depth-wise where it’s a possibility, given that they keep their kids on a strict limit to innings pitched,” Schilling said. “Simple math tells you if they start out with Lester and Buchholz in the rotation and they make every start of the year, don’t miss a turn, that they won’t be able to pitch in September and October. [Tim Wakefield] and I, Dice-K on a six-man over in Japan, there’s a lot of things that lend itself to this being just about the perfect storm if that’s going to happen.”
On Mike Lowell …
Schilling said he’s concerned about the possibility of fan backlash if Mike Lowell signs elsewhere.
“What I really don’t want to see happen here, I really, honestly, don’t want to see this turn into this turn into a segment of people against Mike Lowell or Mike Lowell’s greedy,” Schilling said. “Mike Lowell earned the right to do what he is doing. Mike Lowell was everything … the same people who three years ago were saying ‘Oh, my God, look at this contract, we had to take this guy on?’ and then you had the pundits in spring training saying ‘Oh, his bat’s slow, this guy sucks, and why did we take him …’ are the same people saying now ‘Keep this guy, if he leaves he’s a greedy bastard.’
“The fact of the matter is Mike Lowell is probably at a point and time career-wise when he’s signing his final contract, and some people have kind of used my situation in context in comparison to him, two completely totally … I’m at the final year of my career. Mike’s signing probably one of the last huge contracts he’s going to have a chance to sign. I want him to get everything he can get. I just hope that this club is near enough to everything he can get somewhere else. Because if that’s the case, he’ll play here.
“If it’s three years and $45 million here and three years and $49 million or $50 million somewhere … he’s staying here. I would bet my bottom dollar he’s staying here, just in knowing the man. But if someone offers him four [years] at $58 [million], or four at $60 [million] and he’s at $40 [million], do you blame him? No, you don’t, and you can’t.”
Schilling, who said that Lowell was one of the best teammates he’s ever had and an important part of the puzzle inside the clubhouse.
“My biggest fear is a guy like Mike, goes into a place like New York, and settles the clubhouse down.” said Schilling.
“God willing, he stays, I want him to stay, we all want him to stay, he’s a huge part of this,” said Schilling who said he has complete confidence that the Red Sox will field the best team in baseball no matter what happens with Lowell. “If something happens, God bless him, he gets $60 million, I’m happy for him. We’ll figure out a way.”
On the 2008 presidential race …
On the political end, Schilling said he would support Senator John McCain in the ’08 election.
“I gotta go with McCain,” said Schilling. “As we get through this, and we start to hear things, I’m not voting party line anymore. I’m voting for the guy that I know is going to be the same person four years from now that he was when [he was] elected. I need to trust somebody because I don’t agree with anybody’s platform front to back. I just need to know that the person that I’m putting in the office is not going to… people don’t want to hear this but President Bush has stayed very true to what he’s wanted, and what he’s done, and I just think the office is bigger than any one person. I need somebody that I can trust to do right by the country and stick to their guns.”