-- The Boston Red Sox shot down a wire report early Sunday evening that suggested starting pitcher Curt Schilling would not be able to make his scheduled Game 6 start, if needed.

"There has been no change" in plans, said Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein. "He's our Game 6 starter. We'll use the same approach, which is to give him a couple of days to recover, then see if he can get on a mound and throw."

In each of Schilling's last two starts, he has undergone a surgical procedure the day before in which a displaced tendon in his ankle is sutured into place. However, the Associated Press report quoted team doctor Bill Morgan as saying the worsening condition of Schilling's right ankle made it unlikely the team would perform the procedure a third time.

"I haven't heard anything of that nature," Manager Terry Francona said. "We'll always evaluate him [between starts], but that's as far as it goes."

Schilling said: "I don't know. I haven't thought about it. . . . We'll see what happens."

Cabrera's Options

When Orlando Cabrera jumped from the Montreal Expos to the Boston Red Sox in a four-team trade at the July 31 trade deadline, he figured he was finished forever with the whole sordid story of the Expos franchise.

But now, Cabrera, the Red Sox' shortstop, is a week away from free agency, and the Expos are settling into a new life in Washington, where they will begin play next season -- if there are no snags -- under new ownership and with a new name.

Cabrera said Sunday he would be interested in returning to the team that signed and developed him, and with whom he spent his entire professional career before July 31.

"I can't say it won't be an option -- I think it will be an option," Cabrera said before Sunday night's Game 2 of the World Series. "But right now, I'm not thinking about it. I'm not even thinking about whether I'm going to come back here [to Boston]."

The Red Sox are expected to make a push to retain Cabrera, who replaced Nomar Garciaparra as the team's shortstop. However, the free agent market is rich in shortstops -- in addition to Cabrera, there is Garciaparra, Edgar Renteria, Barry Larkin, Omar Vizquel and Cristian Guzman.

The Expos should have the capacity to increase their payroll significantly in 2005 -- given the expected revenue increases -- after finishing the 2004 season at about $37 million. However, it remains unclear whether MLB, which still owns the franchise pending its sale, will sign high-profile free agents before the sale goes through.

Cabrera hit .294 with six homers and 31 RBI in 58 games with the Red Sox, but his role was reduced by the presence of so many big-name sluggers. "I don't have to do what I did in Montreal here, because we have Manny [Ramirez] and [David] Ortiz to drive in runners," he said. "I just try to get on base for them."

Cabrera said he has begun to feel comfortable with the Red Sox and will consider that when it comes time to decide on a team this winter.

"They've treated me good here," he said. "It's been incredible for me. It's worked out pretty well for me."

Womack Returns to Lineup

St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack was back in the starting lineup on Sunday after leaving Game 1 of the World Series in the seventh inning after being struck on the collarbone by a bad hop ground ball by Ortiz in the Red Sox' 11-9 win.

"I felt like I was hit by a truck twice over this morning," Womack said. "But I'm playing. We have all winter to let it rest."

Boston groundskeepers apologized to St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa for the bad hop, which scored Cabrera in a two-run Boston seventh. Marlon Anderson, who was inserted into Sunday's starting lineup as the designated hitter, replaced Womack.

"Could they erase the run they scored on that play too?" Womack said.

"The ball was hit very hard and it ate him up," La Russa said. Womack said trainers compared the injury to a stinger (pinched nerve) in football.

"When I got hit I kind of lost feeling in my fingers and arm," said Womack, who is also suffering from back spasms. . . .

Outfielder Johnny Damon explained the origin of Boston's "idiots" nickname: "We try to eliminate the thinking, and we've tried to let our natural abilities take over. I think that's why the phrase about the idiots kind of took off. But we don't think. If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team."

Around the Bases

The two managers share a connection other than this Series meeting. La Russa said he played and roomed with Francona's father, Tito, in the late 1960s with Oakland.

La Russa also told reporters that earlier in his managing career he tried to acquire Francona to play for his team.

"Well my initial thoughts are, if he tried to acquire me, he's not nearly as good of a manager as I thought he was," Francona said. "He's gone down in my estimation."

Francona played for five teams and was a career .274 hitter in 10 major league seasons. . . .

With 12/3 scoreless innings on Saturday and 11/3 Sunday, Boston closer Keith Foulke extended his scoreless streak in the playoffs to 12 innings. After Sunday's game, Foulke had not allowed a run in nine postseason appearances this season. Francona, as a bench coach last season for the Oakland Athletics, learned about Foulke's toughness.

"I had never met him before and knew he was a pretty good pitcher and had a little bit of a tough year with the White Sox," Francona said. "Just watching him for the year, I just really respected the way he did things." . . .

Ortiz's home run in Game 1, his fifth of the postseason, tied a team mark for most in the playoffs set last year by Todd Walker. With his home run on Saturday, Ortiz also became the 28th player to homer in his first World Series at-bat. In the playoffs, Ortiz is hitting .444 with 19 RBI. As much as he leads on the field, players admire the way Ortiz also leads in the clubhouse.

"When he first came over to us last year, you know he was just a fun jovial type of guy," Damon said. "He makes people around him happy. That's the kind of person he is. He's very appreciative of everything he's gotten in life. He's been working hard to become a better ballplayer."

Curt Schilling has twice undergone a surgical procedure in which a displaced ankle tendon is sutured into place.