Curt Schilling Diagnosed With Undisclosed Injury; Veteran Pitcher Sidelined Until Mid-Season Break

The Red Sox revealed last Thursday that 20-year veteran pitcher Curt Schilling began reporting feeling “right shoulder discomfort” in January. Immediately, the news of the undisclosed injury sent Red Sox Nation into frenzy, as questioning fans became filled with fear. At this point, it looks like the very earliest Schilling can return to the Sox rotation would be at mid-season, after the All-Star break in 2008. Before the injury, Schilling had said that the 2008 season would be his last in the major leagues, planning to retire after 20 long years of pitching and an impressive 216 career victories. With the recent injury, however, some wonder whether his start in Game Two of the 2007 World Series was his last after all. After Schilling reported his shoulder soreness early in January, he was examined by both Red Sox physician Thomas Gill and personal consultant Dr. Craig Morgan, who has worked with Schilling for over a decade. According to the club’s statement, Gill immediately started Schilling on a “program of rest, rehabilitation and shoulder strengthening in an attempt to return to pitching.” Dr. Morgan, however, disagrees with the course of action taken by the Red Sox. He believes that the only chance Schilling has at returning to full strength would be through surgery, a diagnosis that may very well prevent Schilling from pitching at all in the 2008 season. Last season, Schilling was forced to sit out for seven weeks, from June 22 to August 6, because of right shoulder tendonitis. Although nothing has been confirmed by the team or by Schilling, this new injury is almost certainly related. Last Thursday, despite the contradicting opinions, Schilling said on his blog,, that “at no time did I ever consider taking a course of action against the clubs’ wishes.” He continued, “In the end, regardless of who agreed with whom, I have chosen the club’s course of action and will vigorously pursue any and every option I can to be able to help this team to another World Series title in 2008.” The injury, on which the Red Sox have declined to comment besides their brief statement last Thursday, has raised many questions about the rest of Schilling’s career, and the impact his loss has on the team for 2008. Last year, Schilling had a 9-8 record with a 3.87 ERA in his injury-riddled season, helping the Red Sox when it counted the most, with a 3-0 record and a 3.00 ERA in the post-season. He helped the Sox to their second World Series title in just four years. However, the man that battled through a bloody sock in the 2004 ALCS and has been the Red Sox ace for the past three seasons seems to finally be slowing down. In recent years he has been forced to rely on finesse pitching, using more off-speed pitches, as opposed to his traditional power pitching that led him to so much success throughout the majority of his career. Back in November, fresh off the World Series title, the Sox and Schilling agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal for the 2008 season, with an additional $5 million in performance and health bonuses. According to the club, Schilling was completely healthy and passed all of his performance tests before signing the contract late last year. With the potential loss of Schilling, there will obviously be a large hole to fill in the Red Sox rotation. However, the staff should still be able to hold its own while Schilling strengthens his shoulder. Led by ace Josh Beckett, the Sox will also rely on Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, and promising rookie Clay Buchholz. Nonetheless, the Red Sox will certainly miss the presence of Schilling on the field for however long it takes for the veteran to return to the mound.