An ailing right ankle could keep Boston Red Sox ace Curt Schilling from making another start in the playoffs. The tendons surrounding Schilling's right ankle are rubbing on the bone, according to Red Sox team physician Bill Morgan, preventing Schilling from pushing off the rubber effectively and hurting his location and velocity.
Schilling took an anaesthetic prior to Tuesday's start in Game 1, but the results weren't good -- six runs in just three innings of Boston's 10-7 loss. After Game 1, Schilling said he experienced severe pain and could not control the location of his pitches.
"The biggest thing is physical limitation," Morgan said. "He has a high [pain] threshold and he does very well with that and we are able to control some of the pain with the medication. But it's the physical snapping of his tendon that interferes with his ability to balance and his ability to focus."
Morgan said if the injury had occurred during the middle of the regular season, it's likely Schilling would have had surgery and missed six weeks. Instead, the Red Sox will try to create a brace for Schilling, who will delay the surgery until after the season. Schilling used a brace in his Game 1 start, but Morgan said modifications will have to be made. If Schilling's ankle doesn't respond well to the brace in the next few days, then he likely won't pitch again.
"If we can get Curt's ankle stabilized to the point where he can pitch," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, "then he'll go out there and start Game 5. If we can't get him to the point where the ankle is stabilized, then he won't pitch. Because then we would risk further injury in his shoulder and he would be ineffective."
The Red Sox declined to name a starter to take Schilling's place, though it seems likely the task would fall to Derek Lowe, who was part of Boston's starting rotation during the regular season but lost his spot during the playoffs.
"In my eyes, he's going to pitch," Lowe said.
Lowe, who was 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA in the regular season, has pitched just one inning since the end of the regular season and was relegated to the bullpen when the Red Sox initially set their postseason roster. He seemed frustrated Wednesday when asked about his status.
"What my role is right now? I have no idea," Lowe said. . . .
Yankees Manager Joe Torre said a decision on a Game 4 starter won't be announced until the teams head to Boston. Orlando Hernandez appears to be the likely candidate.
Astros Relying on Munro
Houston Astros right-hander Pete Munro has gone from being released by the Minnesota Twins' Class AAA team in June to starting for the Astros on Thursday night in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, an improbable journey that Munro himself could have never predicted.
Originally signed by the Astros as a long reliever, Munro found himself pressed into service as a starter by season-ending injuries to Andy Pettitte and Wade Miller.
"I had no job opportunities in line," Munro said Wednesday. Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker "called my agent. He said, 'Listen, we'd like him in St. Louis on Friday.' I wasn't expecting all the injuries to happen in the rotation. I was just expecting to be a long guy, maybe an occasional spot-start, but I've been in the rotation ever since."
Munro lasted five innings or less in each of his final six starts of the season, but Astros Manager Phil Garner said that was due in part to a desire to boost the offense by using pinch hitters earlier in games.
"In two or three of his starts I took him out early, it was not because of how he was pitching," Garner said. "It was because of our lack of offense. Pete responded well to that. . . . Under those difficult circumstances, Pete's pitched quite well for us."
Asked if he was okay with Garner's early hooks, Munro replied, "I would say that I'm in a position in my career where I have to be okay with that." . . .
The Yankees have dispatched no fewer than 10 scouts to cover the NLCS, according to one unofficial count. . . .
The New York Yankees' victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night attracted the highest baseball television ratings in the biggest U.S. markets since 1993 for the opening game of the ALCS.
Fox's broadcast of New York's 10-7 win at Yankee Stadium drew 12 percent of viewers in the 56 biggest markets, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc. It's the highest big-city rating for the ALCS opener since the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox drew 12.4 percent of viewers on CBS in 1993.
News services contributed to this report.