Schilling's status now uncertain

Brenly reveals that D'backs ace had arm soreness after Game 4

`We have to play it by ear'

Pitcher insists he would be able to go if Game 7 is necessary

November 03, 2001|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX - In the wake of two devastating late-inning defeats, the Arizona Diamondbacks could take some comfort that they had the two best pitchers in the National League lined up for the sixth and possible seventh game of the 97th World Series.

Now, they can't even be sure of that.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly revealed yesterday that the status of probable Game 7 starter Curt Schilling is uncertain because he experienced unusual arm soreness after his strong performance on three days rest in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

"I think at this point we are just going to have to wait and see how Curt feels," Brenly said yesterday. "He expressed some concern yesterday that he was a little more taxed physically than he thought he would be after pitching in Game 4, so we're just going to have to play it by ear."

The Diamondbacks, however, are getting pretty good at sending out mixed messages. Not long after Brenly delivered that rather startling revelation, Schilling walked into the off-day news conference at Bank One Ballpark and said he would be able to pitch.

"Yeah, I can," he said, "and if he gives me the ball, I will."

Schilling explained that he woke up sore after his dominating, seven-inning performance against the New York Yankees, but he still hopes to be strong enough to make the Game 7 start if the opportunity presents itself.

"I talked to the skipper the day after the game the other day, told him I was sore," he said. "I mean, it was 299 innings into the season and the seven hardest ones I threw were the last seven so I was sore, but it's amazing what 48 hours and some baseball will do for you."

The Diamondbacks' chances of rebounding from three straight losses at Yankee Stadium to win the world title probably depend on it, though there's still the matter of winning Game 6 tonight behind overpowering left-hander Randy Johnson.

If the Diamondbacks had to scratch Schilling from the potentially pivotal game, they probably would have to start left-hander Brian Anderson against likely Hall of Famer Roger Clemens.

"If it gets to [Game] 7, all hands are on deck," Brenly said. "We can throw nine guys, an inning each. We can start Anderson, [Albie] Lopez, Bobby Witt; I'm not exactly sure what the game plan will be right now."

What else could go wrong?

Brenly and his team are still reeling from the stunning late-inning defeats in Games 4 and 5 at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees enter Game 6 with a 3-2 lead and all the momentum in the series after twice coming back from two-run deficits with dramatic last-gasp home runs off Arizona closer Byung-Hyun Kim.

Kim dropped into a crouch and covered his face after Scott Brosius erased a 3-1 deficit on Thursday night, leaving room to wonder if he has the confidence to get the job done if he is called upon again tonight or tomorrow. Brenly, who used Kim for 2 2/3 innings and 62 pitches in relief of Schilling on Wednesday and brought him right back in Game 5, stubbornly insists he will do it again if the situation arises.

"If he's good to go and I fully anticipate that he will be ready to go, he's our closer," Brenly said. "I don't know what else to say. He's our guy. He's done it all year long for us. He's given up a couple of very discouraging home runs over the last couple of days, but he's also pitched tremendously before and after those home runs. So he's going to be our guy."

What other choice does Brenly have? The Yankees can trot out super-stopper Mariano Rivera for an inning or two every night, and back him up with hard-throwing setup men Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Stanton. The Diamondbacks have Kim and a group of journeyman relievers who don't exactly inspire the same confidence that Yankees manager Joe Torre has in his bullpen.

Maybe Kim will be ready and willing after a couple of days rest, but don't expect to see Brenly anywhere near the mound as long as Johnson is pitching well tonight. Johnson will be going on full rest, and he figures to go as long as he wants.

The Diamondbacks manager was heavily criticized for his handling of Game 4, especially after Schilling told some reporters after the game that he didn't want to come out.

Schilling showed up at the news conference yesterday to clarify some "misquotes" and try to take some of the heat off his manager.

"Brenly was criticized the next day because the conversation did not get out to half of you [reporters]," Schilling said. "After I walked up after the seventh inning, I told him I was gassed, but I also felt like I had another inning. So he's got to interpret. There's a lot of different signs as a pitcher you give to a manager - some of them are intentional; some of them are unintentional. But he gets criticized for making a move that has worked for us all year long."

If the Diamondbacks were shaken by the Yankee dramatics, outfielder Luis Gonzalez said yesterday that they remain confident that they can even the series tonight and force a showdown for the world championship tomorrow.

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