Schilling might be healed by opener

By wire services
Published February 9, 2005

BOSTON - Curt Schilling might be ready for opening day after all.

The Red Sox ace, who had ankle surgery after the World Series, is throwing again, and manager Terry Francona said he wouldn't be shocked if Schilling starts against the Yankees and their new pitching star in the opener April 3 in New York.

"It gives him a target date to shoot for," Francona said. "It's the Yankees. It's Randy Johnson. That revs him up even more."

Schilling said pitching the opener was still his goal. "I'm feeling very good about things now," he said.

On Dec. 14, he said his rehabilitation was taking longer than he had expected.

Meanwhile, first baseman Roberto Petagine, a six-year Japanese League veteran and former Central League MVP, agreed to a minor-league deal.

SHEFFIELD SWINGS: Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield hit 35 balls off a tee in his first batting session since offseason shoulder surgery.

Sheffield, a Tampa native and former Hillsborough High standout, had left shoulder surgery Nov. 30 and is taking part in early workouts at the spring complex in Tampa. He expects to start taking batting practice Feb. 22 when New York holds its first full-squad workout.

"It felt okay," Sheffield said. "I'm just getting the feel of it. They wanted to see where I'm at. I don't think they want to rush me."

Also, the 4-year-old YES network will televise the Yankees' opener for the first time. ESPN2 will air the game nationally at 8 p.m.

ANOTHER DENIAL: Tigers catcher Ivan Rodriguez denied accusations by Jose Canseco that he used steroids while playing for the Rangers.

Canseco says in his upcoming book that he introduced Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez to steroids after being traded to Texas in 1992, the New York Daily News reported.

"I'm in shock," Rodriguez told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper in Puerto Rico. "He is saying things that aren't true, and it hurts me a lot that he would say things like that because I've always had a lot of respect for him, and I've even helped him many times when things weren't going well for him."

PEDRO ARRIVES EARLY: Right-hander Pedro Martinez surprised the Mets by showing up in Port St. Lucie 10 days before the first scheduled workout for pitchers, catchers and players coming off injuries.

ALL-STAR GAME: Commissioner Bud Selig will be in San Francisco today to announce that the Giants will host the 2007 All-Star Game.

D'BACKS: The team hired former Mets scout Bill Singer, who was fired 15 months ago for racially insensitive conduct.

GIANTS: General manager Brian Sabean's contract was quietly extended late last season, keeping him with the club through at least 2006.