Red Sox fans require no reminder that Curt Schilling knows a thing or two about impressive comebacks. But he’s never made one as impressive as this.
ESPN announced today that Schilling, the former Red Sox righthander and bloody-socked star of the 2004 World Series champions, is returning to the network as a studio analyst, seven months after he took a leave of absence following a cancer diagnosis.
Schilling will discuss his battle with mouth cancer — the specifics of which he revealed in August — during an interview with Karl Ravech on the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter tonight. He will resume his baseball analyst role during Thursday’s 10 p.m. edition of Baseball Tonight.
“We are ecstatic to have Curt’s passionate and insightful commentary back on our baseball coverage,” said Phil Orlins, ESPN senior coordinating producer, in a statement, “but most importantly, we are all thrilled to see Curt healthy and strong again.”
Schilling, 47, has served as a Baseball Tonight since 2010, three years after he threw the final pitch of a 20-year Major League career in which he won 216 games, including 53 wins and a pair of World Series titles during four active seasons in Boston.
During the baseball Winter Meetings, ESPN announced he would join Dan Shulman and John Kruk in the Sunday Night Baseball booth. His cancer diagnosis prevented him from doing so. ESPN said he will join the booth as soon as he is comfortable.
In the aftermath of his diagnosis, Schilling kept the details of what he was facing mostly private. He appeared gaunt and kept a low profile during a reunion of the 2004 Red Sox in May. But in June, there was good news: he announced he was in remission.
During the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund telethon last month, Schilling revealed that he was battling August, he revealed he had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma — commonly known as mouth cancer — and believed it was caused by his longtime use of chewing tobacco.
“I didn’t talk about it for two reasons,” said Schilling. “No. 1, I didn’t want to get into the chewing tobacco debate, which I knew was going to come about, which to me I’ll go to my grave believing that was why I got what I got.
“And the second thing was I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me, I didn’t want the pity.”