Schilling sutures are also a record

Tendon repair that aided Sox's rally is medical first

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox

World Series

Game 1: St. Louis At Boston

Game 2: Today, 8:10 P.m., Chs. 45, 5

October 24, 2004|By Joe Christensen | By Joe Christensen,Sun Staff

BOSTON — Late game: Last night's Game 1 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at www.baltimoresun.com.

BOSTON - The blood on Curt Schilling's sock should have been a giveaway. But even if the New York Yankees or the rest of America had known about his surgical procedure on Tuesday, they would have been hard-pressed to believe it.

One day before taking the mound for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, Schilling had sutures sewn into his right ankle as a lastditch solution to fix a dislocated tendon.

After hearing the details, the medical community was stunned. Boston Red Sox physician Dr. Bill Morgan had practiced the procedure on cadavers before performing it on Schilling. This was some Frankenstein stuff.

Then Schilling went out and allowed just one run in seven innings, staving off elimination for another day.

The Red Sox completed their amazing comeback against the Yankees, advancing to the World Series against St. Louis, so Schilling was back on the operating table yesterday, in preparation for his start tonight in Game 2.

Yet, Schilling was so matter of-fact about it all, it sounded as if he had simply dunked his sore ankle in the old whirlpool. "Today we were not as rushed as the first time we did [the surgery]," Schilling joked. "So [Morgan] allowed the painkiller to actually work this time."

Schilling has a torn tendon sheath, so one of his peroneal tendons, which run across the back of the ankle, was slipping out of its groove and shifting above the ankle. This explained the "popping" sensation Schilling described after his disastrous performance in Game 1 against the Yankees.

Morgan tried a custom-made brace to secure the tendon, and Reebok tried designing a special shoe, but none of it worked. So Morgan had to improvise. He suggested immobolizing the tendon with sutures.

"When he came to me, we were out of options," Schilling said. "I was not going to pitch Game 6. That was clear. I was not going to go out there feeling the way I felt in Game 1. And when he explained it to me, it made total sense. Whether it had ever been done or not was not really relevant to me at that point."

Morgan said from what he knew, the procedure was unprecedented, and the medical community agreed.

Boston University's Dr. Timothy Foster told the Boston Globe, "I've been associate editor of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the major journal in the field, for 12 years, and this is the first time I've seen this or heard of this."

When the World Series ends, Schilling will need reconstructive surgery, and it will take him at least three months to heal. But for now, he's getting by with a couple sutures piercing through his skin.

Schilling was remarkably effective against the Yankees, even with large fluctuations in his velocity. Some innings, he was throwing 94 mph, and others he had a hard time topping 90.

On two occasions, Schilling had to run to cover first base, and when those plays ended, he walked with a noticeable limp. Yankees manager Joe Torre was later second-guessed for not having his team bunt the ball on Schilling once.

Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa said he noticed, so look for Edgar Renteria, Tony Womack and Co. to try to make Schilling move tonight.

"There are some guys that do bunt that we know will bunt," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We'll pitch to them. Schill is actually very good at that stuff; it just might hurt a little bit. But I don't think [the Cardinals] are going to get by doing things they normally would not do."

The Red Sox spoke optimistically before Schilling's Game 6 start, even when the rest of the world thought they were crazy, and his performance that night only solidified their confidence.

Schilling said he learned a few ideas on how to handle the potent Cardinals lineup by watching Houston's Roger Clemens - a similar-style pitcher - in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

And if the Red Sox keep winning, they'll put Dr. Morgan at the front of their victory parade.

"He's earned every bit of the accolades he's gotten over the last 10 days," Schilling said. "Because without him, I would not be out here."

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