tampabay.com

Some Schilling love

The potential free agent says he'd consider joining the Rays.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 22, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Now pitching for the Devil Rays ... Curt Schilling?

The Red Sox right-hander has had some harsh words in the past for the Rays, but with the potential he'll be looking for work on the free-agent market this winter, Schilling is suddenly making nice.

Schilling raved about the Rays' potential in his blog (38pitches.com) and Tuesday on his weekly WEEI radio show, as well as how much he loves the Tampa Bay area and likes playing in a dome, and went as far as saying he'd consider playing for the Rays next season.

"It's one of those situations you'd certainly look at," he said.

Schilling talked about his long relationship with Rays manager Joe Maddon (dating to Maddon's baseball camps he attended as a high schooler), how much talent they have, and (coincidentally?) how they need a veteran presence.

Maddon, cautious given baseball's tampering rules, seemed at least interested by the comments.

"I can speak to the fact that I've known him for a long time, and I can speak to the fact that I think he's a pretty good scout," he said. "Obviously, he's quite a talent and he still is."

Schilling will be 41 next season and has injury issues but could be an interesting option for the Rays, say at $10-million for one year. He told a Boston Globe reporter later Tuesday not to "make too much" out of the comments, which come as the Sox are battling to hold on to first place.

Here are excerpts:

On the overall Tampa Bay situation

"I love the team. To a point, I love them. I think they've got a ton of talent. With (Scott) Kazmir, (James) Shields and (Edwin) Jackson I love the thought of that rotation growing up together. It's an incredibly attractive place from a potential standpoint.

"That being said, there's issues over there. They're going to lose 100 games again potentially, and you wonder who is the everyday presence on that club that leads. Because they've got a lot of young guys, and none of them have ever won anything at this level, which is not a big deal because everybody is going to start with a clean slate. But there's going to have to be some guys with some presence stand up to push those guys along and make things change.

"That's a team you pay attention to when you play them. You watch body language, you watch the way guys act and react off the field and on the field. Knowing Joe Maddon as well as I do, it's going to be interesting to see how they do. ... "

On the Trop and the Tampa Bay area

"That doesn't bother me. ... I love Tampa, I love the area, I love everything about it. I had a house there that we stayed at for a couple years a while back, I love living down here. ... I'm hoping they can turn this into a really fun baseball place to play."

On possibly playing for the Rays

"It's one of those situations you'd certainly look at. Knowing that I'm probably going to spend one more year playing, if circumstances happen and things happen and they made some moves that were positive, I'd love nothing more than to finish my career working on a pitching staff where I know that there are young guys that were going to be positively impacted by me being around (after) I was gone."