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Schilling breaks off contract talks with Phils _ pitcher expects trade

March 18, 1997

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ The next move for Curt Schilling might be to a new team.

Schilling broke off contract talks with the Phillies on Monday when he did not get the guarantee he wanted, then predicted Philadelphia would trade him before opening day.

The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees are interested in the Phillies’ best starting pitcher, but general manager Lee Thomas told all teams not to bother. Not yet, at least.

``Curt has been known to change his mind, and he might this time,″ Thomas said. ``As long as I think there’s any chance we can do this, I’m not even going to entertain any trade thoughts.″

Schilling portrayed the meeting with president Bill Giles and Thomas as make-or-break for working out an extension beyond 1997.

But the Phillies refused to budge on Schilling’s demand that all $15.5 million for three years be guaranteed. Instead, they assured him $9.5 million overall for three years, proposing a package that could be worth up to $21.75 million through 2001, provided he pitch 470 innings before then.

Schilling and agent Jeff Borris rejected that plan.

``They wanted me to pitch innings to guarantee the money, and we told them that was not an option,″ Schilling said after the 2 1/2-hour session. ``They knew this was the final day. I’m disappointed it didn’t turn out the way I hoped.″

``I think they’re foolish not to sign me. I know they have to make business decisions, and I don’t think they made a good one. I want to stay in Philadelphia, but I think they were counting on me staying.″

Schilling said he did not intend to negotiate again with the Phillies this season and asked them not to approach him with any more offers. He is set to make $3.5 million this year and is eligible for free agency after the season.

``I wasn’t bluffing,″ he said.

Schilling, however, said he does not anticipate being with the Phillies much longer.

``I can’t imagine they’d let me play out the season and then let me walk,″ he said. ``Do I expect to be traded? Yeah.″

Schilling said he thought he would be gone within two weeks.

The Indians, who spent the entire offseason unsuccessfully trying to sign top free-agent pitchers such as John Smoltz and Roger Clemens, might be the first in line to call.

Schilling, 30, was 9-10 with a 3.19 ERA last season. He missed the first six weeks of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, then came back to lead the NL with eight complete games. He made 26 starts, pitched 183 1-3 innings and ranked 10th in the league with 182 strikeouts.

Schilling joined the Phillies in 1992. He was 16-7 in 1993 and was the MVP of the NL playoffs as Philadelphia reached the World Series for the first time in a decade.

The right-hander was limited to 13 starts in 1994 because of an elbow injury and held to 17 starts in 1995 because of shoulder trouble. He is 52-52 with a 3.49 ERA in a career that also includes stints with Baltimore and Houston.

``Last year, we had $19 million on our payroll that hardly played a game,″ Giles said. ``He had told us he was going to share the risk. The last time he pitched a full season was 1993, so I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask him show us he’s healthy.″

Coming off a 67-95 record and a last-place finish in the NL East, the Phillies signed free-agent starters Mark Portugal and Mark Leiter in the offseason, at far lower prices than what Schilling is seeking.

``Curt has told us this is where he wants to play,″ Thomas said. ``We want him. But we’re not going to be Cleveland or the Yankees and give him the ballpark.″

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