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Schilling To Have Shoulder Surgery

December 10, 1999

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ Philadelphia Phillies ace Curt Schilling will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder Monday and probably be out until May, a setback for a club building toward a playoff run next season.

``I’m deeply disappointed by this,″ Schilling said in a statement Friday. ``Primarily because this team is possibly ready to contend and I wanted to be there from day 1.″

``The assessment is that I can be back pitching by early to mid May,″ he said. ``I’m holding to that timeline and working toward it.″

Schilling, 33, was 15-6 with a 3.54 ERA last season, but missed most of the last two months because of shoulder trouble.

One of the best power pitchers in the majors, he is 99-83 in a 12-year career. He led the NL with 319 strikeouts in 1997 and 300 in 1998, and tied for the league lead with 35 starts each season.

``Obviously, we would’ve like to have had Curt ready from the start of spring training,″ general manager Ed Wade said at baseball’s winter meetings. ``He was down for a lot of different reasons yesterday.″

Wade and the Phillies have been active in the offseason, acquiring pitcher Andy Ashby from San Diego and signing free agent closer Mike Jackson. That prompted Philadelphia to feel certain it would improve its 77-85 record and perhaps earn its first playoff spot since 1993.

That bright future looked a bit dimmer, however, after Schilling’s evaluation.

Schilling was scratched from a start in late July because of tendinitis in his right biceps and was on the disabled list from Aug. 8-Sept. 3 because of shoulder inflammation. He made one more start, lasting only 5 1-3 innings in a 10-2 loss to Houston on Sept. 8 and striking out just one, his lowest total in 5 1/2 years.

Behind Schilling, the Phillies made a surprising run for the NL wild-card spot. But injuries to him and third baseman Scott Rolen ended those chances.

Dr. Craig Morgan will perform surgery on Schilling in Wilmington, Del., to repair a problem in the shoulder capsule.

``I think he has a very good chance of resuming his pre-injury level of pitching,″ Morgan said.

Schilling began his offseason throwing program Monday and felt discomfort in his shoulder. He felt the pain again on Tuesday and was uncomfortable when he threw for Morgan on Thursday.

``I can’t point the finger to overuse″ in the last few years, Morgan said. He did not predict whether the Phillies will be forced to change Schilling’s workhorse status.

Schilling will be the fourth player in the Phillies organization to undergo this surgical procedure in the last year. Pitcher Jeff Brantley, catcher Bobby Estalella and a minor leaguer also had it done.

Wade said the Phillies would be trying to add pitching depth during the next few days at the winter meetings.

``We have to figure out what we’ll do between opening day and when Curt returns,″ he said.

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