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Schilling on shelf Sunday

MARC TOPKIN, Times wires
Published October 15, 2004

BOSTON - The Red Sox made it official Thursday that Curt Schilling won't be able to pitch as scheduled in Game 5 Sunday, but left open the possibility - however slim - that he could pitch again this season.

Manager Terry Francona said Schilling's injured right ankle was too sore for him to even try to throw on Thursday, but that the training staff would continue to explore options to make him available later.

"It's not over," Francona said. "He's going to try to continue to prepare. But as far as Sunday goes, he's not starting."

With Schilling out, the Sox plan to use Derek Lowe, who was bumped to the bullpen for the playoffs after an inconsistent year.

But that assignment comes with an asterisk because bad weather could push each game back a day, which would allow the Red Sox to bring back Pedro Martinez for a potential Game 5 on Monday.

Schilling's problem is a tear in the sheath that surrounds a tendon. While the pain is manageable, the condition has limited his ability to pitch the way he normally does.

Schilling left Fenway Park without talking to reporters Thursday, but called a Boston radio station and sounded like he wasn't expecting to pitch again.

"If I can't pitch without altering my mechanics, then we're going to have to win a World Series without me," Schilling told WEEI. "It's doable, and if you're a world champion club you're going to find a way. And I believe we are, and I believe we will."

Red Sox players said they could overcome the loss of their ace, but his absence is obvious. "If he can't go for the rest of the series, I definitely think it's hurting us," Game 3 starter Bronson Arroyo said.

The Yankees felt about the same way.

"When the season started, all of the talk was about Curt and Pedro being the 1-2 punch," outfielder Bernie Williams said. "It seems like it has turned out in a way that when they have needed him the most, he might not be available. So that obviously is going to play in our favor."

FOR STARTERS: The Yankees have had their own pitching problems, but manager Joe Torre confirmed that Orlando Hernandez, who didn't pitch in the division series because of shoulder problems, would start Game 4 Saturday. "We feel he's healthy enough to try this," Torre said.

RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS: Heavy rain is forecast tonight, which makes a postponement a serious concern. If so, Game 3 would be Saturday night and Game 4 Sunday night. Game 5 would be pushed back to Monday's scheduled travel day.

PAST PERFORMANCE: As confident as the Red Sox are playing at home - where they hit nearly 50 points higher and had an extra run a game - they don't have history on their side.

Of the 15 teams to fall behind 0-2 in LCS play, only two have come back to win, and they were the first two: the 1985 Cardinals over the Dodgers and the 1985 Royals over the Blue Jays. Overall, 61 teams have fallen behind 0-2 in best-of-seven postseason play, and only 12 have rallied to win.

STARTING OVER: The Red Sox have started slow both nights, with exactly one hit in the first six innings of the two games, and hope to do better. "We're bound to," catcher Jason Varitek said. A big reason has been the poor start by leadoff man Johnny Damon, who is 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.

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