Extra Bases

Francona, Epstein discuss Schilling

Neither Red Sox manager Terry Francona nor general manager/executive vice-president Theo Epstein were shocked that veteran pitcher Curt Schilling had to shut down his rehabilitation program and now faces season-ending surgery, which might mark the end of his career.

“He worked hard for a couple of months, trying to strengthen the shoulder,” said Epstein. “He actually did get stronger. It went pretty well through long toss and initially getting up off the mound. But when he had to really start to let it go in bullpens, he hurt and he really wasn’t able to let it go so he was examined by Dr. [Thomas] Gill and at this point, the team it seemed like the best alternative is to go ahead and let him have surgery, that [the other] path was not going to get him back on the mound for us this year. It’s disappointing but we reached a point where we weren’t counting on [Schilling] per se. In the back of our minds, we hoped ‘Maybe this guy will come back and really provide a big boost for us given everything he’s done in the postseason.’ We’d never bet against Curt Schilling but we always knew this was a possibility. Something was wrong with his shoulder. We don’t know how it happened.”

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Epstein said doctors won’t know the extent of the damage until they operate.

Francona said because they’d been watching the situation day to day, it was something that didn’t take them by surprise.

“We’ve been trying to fight this since January,” said Francona. “We tried to talk it out, let the medical people make decisions that we weren’t capable of and try to put him in the best position where he could pitch for us and when it ultimately came down to it, it wasn’t happening.”

If his Red Sox career is over, Epstein said he leaves a special legacy.

“He made a tremendous impact here,” said Epstein. “When we were sitting in his living room back in November of 2003, and we talked about a lot of things but among those were him coming here, and helping us win a World Series and handling the Boston market and pitching effectively, leading a rotation, I think those things came true and then some. He certainly lived up to his end of the bargain and it was a very effective marriage while it lasted. He left his mark on this organization.”

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