Schilling Put On The 15-day Disabled List The Inflammation In His Right Shoulder Has Not Improved, Dealing A Blow To His Team's Wild-card Hopes.

Posted: August 14, 1999

CINCINNATI — The Phillies have survived the losses of several key players and enjoyed what to this point has been a surprisingly successful season.

Now comes the biggest challenge of all.

One month to the day after starting for the National League in the All-Star Game, Curt Schilling was placed on the disabled list last night with inflammation in his right shoulder. The 32-year-old righthander, who has been plagued by this problem for more than a month, will return to Philadelphia today for concentrated therapy.

"We've tried to milk this thing for a month," manager Terry Francona said. "It was time to do what we did."

Trainer Jeff Cooper added: "The prudent thing to do is shut him down. He's pitched almost 900 innings since coming back from [shoulder] surgery [in May 1996]. He's had back-to-back 250-inning seasons. It might be time to put him in the shop and clean him up."

Cooper hinted that the Phillies might have shut Schilling down sooner if he wasn't having such a great year.

"I had my head in the sand a little bit, too," Cooper said. "He had gotten to the brink of being OK a couple of times, and he was making a run at the Cy Young. Now, we have to put all of that aside and get him healthy."

Schilling was not available for comment.

Lefthander Anthony Shumaker has been called up from triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and will take Schilling's spot in the rotation Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Schilling is the fourth significant Phillie to be placed on the disabled list this season. The Phillies have already lost closer Jeff Brantley, No. 3 starter Carlton Loewer, and starting shortstop Desi Relaford.

Schilling, who ranks third in the NL with 14 wins, is the most severe loss.

Schilling's assignment to the DL was back-dated to Aug. 8. If all goes well, he'll be eligible to return Aug. 23. The question is, will the Phils still be in contention for the NL wild card when he returns?

The Phils entered last night's game against Cincinnati seven games back in the wild-card race.

Two weeks ago, they were looking to add a starting pitcher so they could stay in the hunt. Subtracting one the best pitchers in the NL could be fatal to this scrappy team's postseason hopes.

The announcement that Schilling was headed to the DL came during the second inning of last night's game at Cinergy Field.

The news wasn't surprising. Two hours earlier, Schilling looked like a man in distress as he stood in left field and played catch with a teammate. Schilling lobbed the ball the way a father does when he plays catch with his young son. His throwing motion was slow and cautious. He appeared to be in some pain.

Schilling tossed for just a few minutes before leaving the field and heading straight to the trainer's room. He came out for a moment, then abruptly turned and headed back into the trainer's room as he was approached by reporters.

Earlier in the day, Francona had said that Schilling's status for Tuesday would be decided today, after the pitcher threw in the bullpen. It was clear watching Schilling yesterday that throwing in the bullpen today would be an impossibility.

Shumaker, who was held out of his start at triple A last night, has made one big-league start in his career. He pitched eight innings and allowed only one earned run in a July 23 loss to the Braves.

Schilling has been bothered by inflammation and soreness in his shoulder for more than a month. He skipped two starts and had a cortisone shot, but none of that alleviated the problem.

All along, Phillies team physician Michael Ciccotti has maintained that Schilling's shoulder is sound, and the inflammation would clear up.

Ciccotti has said the inflammation in Schilling's biceps tendon and rotator cuff was being caused by the stresses of throwing a baseball. Now the Phillies may have no choice but to demand that Schilling have an MRI to see just what's going on inside the shoulder.

Schilling has had a history of shoulder problems. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum and a bone spur in the joint in July 1995.

He came back in May 1996 throwing harder and better than ever. Armed with a lucrative contract extension, Schilling blossomed into one of the NL's best starters in 1997 when he recorded a club-record 319 strikeouts. He reached 300 strikeouts last season. In addition to the strikeouts, Schilling's durability had been amazing. He ran off 117 straight starts after coming back from surgery.

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