"...my arm has not hurt all year, not in any significant way anyway, but up until about 5 days
ago it has not felt right for any period of time this year." -- Curt Schilling
Curt Speaks His Mind in an Afternoon E-mail Exchange Covering Everything from His Rehab and Weight Gain to Fenway Fans, Julio Lugo, and Peter Gammons
In an e-mail Q&A with Boston Dirt Dogs this afternoon, pitcher Curt Schilling sounded off on a number of different topics, including his rehab progress, mistakes of the past offseason, accusations of cheap shots, Fenway fans, Julio Lugo’s treatment, his blog, and who would win a Red Sox hot dog eating contest.
BDD: Curt, if you don't see marked improvement on the mound upon your return in the second half, would you consider retiring at the end of this season?
Schill: The long and short is that I've already seen significant change and improvement, so I am not even looking in that direction.
BDD: Curt, you wrote in your latest blog entry, "It's going to be longer than I had hoped," regarding getting back on the mound at Fenway. Is the longer-than-anticipated return due to any setbacks in the rehab? Any rehab goals not being met? Or was it the medical staff's decision?
Schill: Every goal the staff has set we've met or exceeded. The rehab, with less input from me than I probably would like, is being completely controlled by Dr. [Thomas] Gill, Paul Lessard, Mike Reinholt and John Farrell.
BDD: If you had to pinpoint a date, when can Red Sox fans expect you back on the mound?
Schill: Nice try.
BDD: Peter Gammons made the following comments on July 5 about your impending return to action in a radio interview with Michael Kay: "They're [Red Sox] now saying first week of August, at the earliest [for Schilling's return to the rotation] and his arm has not come around with the rest."
Schill: That's not true, or right.
BDD: More from Gammons: "It may be that the winter of not working out and getting heavy has maybe put just [Schilling] on the periphery of becoming a very average pitcher. Now it could also be that he gets two months rest, goes into September, and comes back and is strong, but, they're very concerned about Curt Schilling at this point."
Schill: Would love to deny all of that first line but I can't. There is no question I showed up to camp heavier than I wanted to or should have. There is and was no excuse but 'not working out and getting heavy' is a lie. I was with our strength coach 4-5 days a week once I started my throwing program. I made some critical mistakes this winter in many places and one of them was allotting time properly. There were many significant non-baseball real life issues that came about 4-6 weeks before camp opened. I NEVER skipped a throwing day, never, but I didn't do some things I probably should have.
As I stated earlier one of the things I've always had was my arm strength. Things have changed and the natural progression of arm strength through my throwing program changed this past year. Doing what "I'd always done" when it comes to throwing didn't work this winter and I am where I am as a result of that. Thankfully Dr Gill and the staff have implemented some programs that are having significant impact on all things concerning my arm and it's being addressed. If I could go back and change the events I would, I can't, but it was not as Peter says 'from not working out'.
BDD: Kay then inferred that you took a cheap shot at Theo Epstein when you made the "people who haven't played the game" comment a couple of weeks ago. Gammons was asked about it and about your thinking you'd be back sooner rather than later.
Schill: There was no cheap shot. When have I ever taken a cheap shot? I have said dumb things and things that didn't need to be said, but I don't do the cheap shots. I spoke with Theo the next morning and made it clear to him that it was not directed at him personally. I have more respect for him, and our front office, than that.
At that point I'd heard "Maybe this is a good thing…yadda yadda" about 45 times, and I was less than happy hearing it. I don't think like that and people that do tend to annoy me. I am being paid to do one thing, win games, and being on the DL, for reasons mostly of my own doing, can in no way be construed by me, no matter how you look at it, as a good thing. I think the comment was aimed more at the people standing at my locker than anyone. Being on the DL sucks, and having played with people that have no problems being on the DL, you want to make sure the people you are rehabbing with and your teammates know that the DL is the last place on the planet you want to be.
BDD: More from Gammons -- "I think [Schilling] thought that [he was ready to pitch], then came back and tried to throw this week and found out that he couldn't."
Schill: Again, that's just wrong and not true.
BDD: Gammons also said ... "Curt takes a lot of shots at a lot of people, it's unfortunate. He's taken shots at doctors. And I'm sure he's frustrated but there's no question that the team was irate with the fact that he never worked out in the offseason."
Schill: My 'shots' are opinions and the funny thing is, if people in Peter's line of work didn't ask the questions, they'd have no answers or 'shots'. That doesn't excuse the things I've said in the past which have been wrong, misinformed or hurtful. I've done that and had to rightfully take the heat I deserved in many cases. I'm no different than anyone else in that regard, except that my opinions or shots seem to matter a lot more than they should to many people. I showed up at spring training at 251 [pounds], the day I went on the DL I was at 236. I'm hovering right at 235 now, which is as light as I would ever want to be during the season, but the weight issue was handled quickly in Florida. That's still no excuse for showing up at the weight I did and I don't have one except as I stated above. I don't have a problem with people if they want to question me or my desire, commitment when I've done something that warrants it, and in some respects this is exactly what happened. Having said that, my arm has not hurt all year, not in any significant way anyway, but up until about 5 days ago it has not felt right for any period of time this year.
BDD: One more quote from Gammons -- "I mean he wanted a $13 million extension and didn't work out ... That has really impacted the way the team feels about Curt Schilling at this point. ... They way they took it, they felt that he was saying 'you know what, my video game business is far more important than winning the World Series.'"
Schill: In my opinion this is Peter conveying a message to me from someone that didn't want to say it to me directly. That or taking a huge stab in the dark, which he does quite often.
BDD: Are you still speaking with the Red Sox regarding a new contract? Does the break from playing allow you more time to focus on the topic? Or have you put this on the back burner until the offseason?
Schill: No. I honestly haven't thought of it once this year until it was brought up in conversation or interviews. I said what I said and meant what I said. If there is interest in me coming back after the seasons over then they'll let me know.
BDD: When is the last time you spoke with Theo, and what did you talk about? Have you spoken to John Henry recently? How about Larry Lucchino, do you two have a relationship? Do you IM Tom Werner?
Schill: [I spoke with Theo on the] last day of the homestand and we were talking about some of the young kids that have been up and down this year as well as [Mark] Buehrle's situation. I spoke to Mr. Henry last week. I spoke to Mr. Lucchino yesterday. I have IM'd with Mr. Werner a few times this year when he was back on the West Coast.
BDD: Do you think the additional commitments of charity endeavors, commercials, shoe launches, etc. have contributed to David Ortiz's power numbers being a bit off this season? Or is that a reach?
Schill: Absolutely not. People sometimes forget that this is the -- major leagues -- and it's not easy. David, up until about a week ago was hitting close to .325 and slugging near the top of the league as well. He's been pitched a lot tougher this year as well. He's as committed and focused as he's every been.
BDD: Manny Ramirez seems to be a happy camper this season, any guesses why he hasn't been able to get on a consistent run yet?
Schill: See above. Manny is no different, working his ass off everyday in the cage, lifting too. Manny has been horribly unlucky this year as well. He could have had 3-4 home runs in the first few series this year. He hit a ton of balls to the wall in a few parks and he's had more o'fers with nothing but line drives than anyone I've played with since Gregg Jefferies.
BDD: Both clubhouse newcomer Julio Lugo and second-year center fielder Coco Crisp have gone through struggles at the plate this season. Lugo has been primarily upbeat while Coco has gone through some periods of being slightly reclusive. How has each guy handled the struggles, and the pressures of playing in Boston? Do you think the fans have been rough on these guys?
Schill: They have both been good. Both of them are working as hard as you can work to get right and be good. I think the adjustment to Boston is a hard one but I think both of them have made strides and I think Coco is back to being the guy we saw the first week of last year as well.
BDD: Last Monday against the Rangers, the fans at Fenway were chanting, "Let's go, Lugo," when the struggling shortstop stepped to the plate. Were the players on the bench surprised that, in lieu of boos, the fans were actually getting behind a struggling player?
Schill: That was huge, we all noticed and I know he had to. That's the first time I've seen someone get the complete opposite reaction than we were all expecting and a lot of us remarked how awesome it was that the fans reacted that way, it blew us away.
BDD: Do you think the fans at Fenway are still as tough as the fans in Philly? Or do you think $200 seats, the 10-game lead, and/or '04 Series win under the belt, has softened the fan base a bit? Are we, gulp, glorified Cardinals fans now?
Schill: There is no comparison in the fan bases. The fans in Philly have had to endure decades of ineptitude and poor management. They want to believe but have been screwed so often by so many that they became worse than jaded, they became apathetic. Late in the '90s there was minimal interest in the Phillies and it was a tough place to play. The die hards there are incredible fans. The 1993 season is what that city truly can be if they can get going again and that was an incredible experience.
BDD: You changed your mind about retiring after this season, any chance you could change your mind on any of the following once you do retire?
A run for U.S. Senate or other political office?
Schill: Probably not.
BDD: What about a stint in the media, NESN analyst, a la Dennis Eckersley, Baseball Tonight commentator, etc.
Schill: Absolutely zero chance of this ever happening, less than zero actually.
BDD: Would you be interested in a Gabe Kapler run up the Red Sox managerial ladder, or pitching coach?
Schill: No. It takes more time to be a great coach than it does a great player. The time needed to be great at coaching is truly overwhelming. These guys put in 14-16-hour days, every day at the park.
BDD: Would you consider packing up shop in Medfield and move back to Arizona?
Schill: If you were the Sox GM, what player would you work feverishly to sign to a new contract extension over the All-Star break: Mike Lowell or Curt Schilling?
Schill: Mike Lowell. I am signing a one-year extension, no more, so I'd be much more inclined to take care of someone that's an everyday player and will be looking, most likely, for more than a one-year deal.
BDD: Curt, you wrote in your latest blog entry, "I do, for better or worse, write this all myself. Though a few times I have wished someone else could have fallen on the sword…" Which 38Pitches.com entry would you do over and why?
-- Your slightly early announcement on Papelbon going back to the 'pen in March?
Schill: This was an absolute and total mistake on my part. The spring training schedule is such that starting pitchers have a goofy schedule and aren't always around the team when it travels or plays night games, I absolutely thought everyone knew about it when I heard the news that morning.
-- The Gary Thorne bloody-sock comment response in April?
Schill: Wouldn't change anything.
-- The Bonds* apology?
Schill: No, I wouldn't change this. I was sorry I said what I said. Regardless of what I think I had no right to say the things I did and drag people into the situation that didn't deserve it. No one has that right.
BDD: So you have a blog. You are famous. Are you a member of the media?
Schill: Millions of people have blogs. I am no more a member of the media than you are a member of the Sox ...
BDD: Big Papi got a kick out of a Boston Dirt Dogs bit putting his face on American Idol's LaKisha Jones, but what about when we post some items you said were uncalled for. Do players bum out and not get the joke? Do you think Boston Dirt Dogs is harsher than some of the offerings on WEEI's Whiner Line or Dennis & Callahan morning intros?
Schill: I don't compare 'harshness'. You either are or you aren't. I think when you were taken over by the Globe you changed significantly. I always thought you went a tad far and took shots, but before it was always as a rabid fan, I think it's different now, I think you take shots to be 'funny' and humorous in the same way CHB thinks he's funny, witty and insightful. Not to mention you seem to have this running feud with the rabid folks at SOSH, and I think you are two totally different outlets. SOSH, to me anyway, is a place where the hard core members of Sox Nation hang out, BDD is a place where people come to get news and gossip, some true some not.
BDD: Would you like to see Jonathan Papelbon starting in the second half? With a Clay Buchholz or Brad Lidge closing? How about Papelbon back to starting, and giving the rotation 200 innings next season?
Schill: Paps is fine where he's at.
BDD: Can you give us a preview of anything new coming up on the blog? Any special guests chiming in? Any other player close to launching a blog?
Schill: There is going to be more 38 Studios stuff coming up soon. We are having a corporate coming out party at Comicon this year with Todd [McFarlane] and R.A. [Salvatore] and members of our senior staff.
BDD: Have you considered having a corporate advertising sponsor for 38Pitches.com? Are we going to see any ad placements on the site soon?
Schill: Potentially yes.
BDD: Are you thinking of shutting off the comments on the blog anytime soon? Is it tedious for the webmaster to review all the incoming postings? Too much gratuitous butt kissing, self-promoting, same old questions? Or do you look forward to the visitor comments?
Schill: Most likely not. I can't help the people that post "You're the best greatest most awesomest guy ever" stuff. I can't help that and I don't and didn't start the site to elicit that. I think the Q&A has pretty cool potential if people ask the right questions about the game. I find it just as funny that people that come by and say "great game, good luck we're huge fans" get railed on. Someone complimenting someone else is enough to warrant others getting pissed off. That's someone living a miserable life. If someone else saying something nice about someone makes you mad, you have quite a few of your own issues. Not to mention JUST DON'T READ IT if it bothers you.
The funny thing is that people that hate me, or the Sox, spend an inordinate amount of time on the site, and I don't get that. Why browse and hang out in a place run by someone you hate, inhabited by fans you can't stand?
BDD: Curt, in August 2005 you spoke with the Globe's Shira Springer and made the following comments regarding offseason conditioning:
''I don't question for a second that had I not been with them (Athletes' Performance in Arizona) this winter, I wouldn't be back this year," said Schilling. ''I wouldn't be nearly where I am now." …
''I want to play two more years and walk away. And I want to do that at a level that I've done it the last 10 or 15 years. I don't think I'll be able to do that without their input and their help.
''If I'm not getting power from my core in a part of my delivery, they have a set of exercises to address that. I've seen dramatic improvement in range of motion and flexibility since I've been there, which for what I do for a living is at the center of success and failure."
''If I was a general manager, every young player on my roster would spend six weeks before spring training going down there," said Schilling. ''If for nothing else the knowledge going forward. People need to realize if you're not doing this now, you're behind the curve. If you're not involved with AP or something AP-like, you're losing the race."
Are you still of the belief that every player should spend six weeks at Athletes' Performance or an equivalent facility before the start of the season?
Schill: I think front offices should send their young prospects and 40-man guys to API, or something equivalent, to expose them to it at least. Once you get exposed to this stuff you never look at it the same way.
BDD: Do you still work with any of the folks at API? You had worked closely and frequently with API performance specialist Craig Friedman and physical therapist Sue Falsone in the past. Do you have a comparable team to workout with here in the East?
Schill: I haven't since 2005. But the Sox are also very API like in their approach to movement prep and core strength.
BDD: What can you tell us about why the Red Sox did not bring back Orlando Cabrera, a World-Series winning shortstop?
Schill: I am not sure there is any one thing. I think they had interests elsewhere and I know he was very interested in testing the market.
BDD: Who do you miss the most from the 2004 squad in the clubhouse? Which '04 alum do you miss most on the field?
Schill: Bill Mueller, D-Lowe on and off the field. From a performance standpoint I wish I'd had a chance to play with Petey [Pedro Martinez] longer and see him healthy.
BDD: Tigers or Angels, who will be more dangerous in October?
Schill: Both. Though being swept by the Tigers this past week I think they are the best team we've played to this point.
BDD: What's the deal with Youk's so-called blog? He doesn't type, right? Are the words even his? Can't you give him some help here?
Schill: I haven't spoken to him about it.
BDD: If only one Red Sox player, not six, could be in San Francisco this week, which player should it be?
Schill: A hypothetical that doesn't need to be answered. I think you could argue that Dustin and Youk should be there as well.
BDD: Who would be the hot-dog contest eating champion of the 2007 Red Sox?
Schill: Glenn Geffner?