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Schilling to the bullpen; it's a "good thing"

Perhaps Johnny Damon’s in a panic (Why are you guys still petrified of the Yankees??) with the news of Curt Schilling’s return to the Red Sox in a bullpen role. But, this latest move by Boston, in the wake of Keith Foulke’s injury and ineffectiveness (4 blown saves and a 6.23 ERA), makes perfect sense. Granted, the Yankee will put together a run at Boston after the All Star break, regardless if Schilling is in the bullpen, rotation, or rehab. But, this bullpen is what is keeping the Yankees in the race, and I give Francona props for wanting to do something about it.

It’s apparent that Schilling’s ankle is not strong enough to pitch 6 or 7 innings at this time (see his last outing for Pawtucket), but he can be very valuable coming out of the pen, and giving the team a strong inning or two. The gutsy Schilling actually began his career as a reliever, before becoming one of the premier Starting Pitchers in baseball in the past decade. John Smoltz is living proof you can make a successful transformation from staff ace to closer. It doesn’t hurt that Schilling is a well respected veteran, and could provide a calming influence over a not-so-calm state of affairs.

Now, back to Damon’s comments before Wednesday’s game at Texas. “I don't think he's ready to be our closer,I think Bronson (Arroyo) would be our best choice as a closer. That's if Mike Timlin's not it.”. Okay Johnny, if Arroyo heads down to the bullpen, who takes his place in the rotation? Certainly not Schilling, he’d have to remain on the sidelines. Unless Boston goes exclusively to a four man rotation, they have to insert Jeremi Gonzalez (or another mediocre hurler) back into the “spot starter” role. That would be my idea of “panic”. If Timlin takes over for Foulke

as team Fireman, then the entire bullpen will be forced to move up one spot. Like Rocket J Squirrel would say to Bullwinkle “Not again!! That trick never works!!!” Chances are, Theo Epstein will acquire an established middle reliever to help plug up the leaks in the bullpen boat.

Schilling, unlike too many of today’s players, is the true definition of at “team player”. If the mental picture of his bloody sock and decimated ankle last October in the ALCS doesn’t confirm that, I’m sorry for ya’. He has agreed to take on this role, which gets him back in the rotation without putting too much wear and tear on the ankle. In other words, Johnny, he’s doing this “for the team”. He will be a lot fresher than most starters when September rolls around, and if he’s healthy, more than likely he will be sharp (see Schilling’s past history).

Obviously, the Red Sox manager doesn’t see this as a reason for dissention. "This is not permanent," Francona said of Schilling closing. "Whether it's two weeks, two months, it's not two years. We don't know what's going to happen. Two weeks ago, we weren't having this conversation. We're trying to do the best we can. I don't think we have leeway to not win. Our job is to win. So we're going to do the best we can to win.” Exactly!! Francona is smart enough to realize that if it’s not working, he’ll pull the plug on the experiment and go to plan B. Then, maybe Johnny Damon can set the pitching rotation and won’t be in such a panic over a team they eliminated from the Playoffs in 2004

About the Author
John Onan (aka Ego74) is Sports Moderator at and a regular Football Contributor at

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