Rushing Schilling for Opening Day? Why?

>A lot has been made of Curt Schilling trying to make it back for April 3rd to pitch in baseball’s Opening Day against Randy Johnson. While that certainly would be a very good way to kick off 2005 baseball, it’s also the wrong way – rushing Curt Schilling.

Curt Schilling is just getting over the flu, has not faced a batter yet, and has 24 days to get ready for Opening Day. Does that inspire confidence? I don’t think so. So here’s a novel concept: if you really want to maximize Curt Schilling’s debut in 2004 and yet want to give him time to get ready, why not wait until April 11th to pitch Schilling? April 11th marks Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, against the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox are currently set to play April 3rd, 5th, and 6th at Yankee Stadium, then have an offday and begin a three-game series at Toronto for the 8th, 9th, and 10th, then April 11th is upon us. So let’s break it down like this. I’m going to count off 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 for starters, with the off-days noted from April 3 to April 11.

Right now, Curt Schilling would be #1, David Wells #2, Matt Clement #3, Tim Wakefield #4 and Bronson Arroyo #5.

1, OFF, 2, 3, OFF, 4, 5, 1, 2

Now why not use these off-days to cut Schilling out of the picture entirely until April 11th?

2, OFF, 3, 4, OFF, 5, 2, 3, 1

This gives Curt Schilling additional time to get ready, and it’s certainly possible that either FOX or ESPN could pick up Opening Day as it is only slated for NESN right now in the Boston area.

Plus, it’s not like David Wells isn’t a story in his own right for national baseball on Opening Day! This is an ex-Yankee who wants to still be a Yankee but was rebuffed by the Yankees who said they were looking to get younger. Wells then signed with the archrival and so far has said he really enjoys it here and loves the clubhouse and intimated he liked the Red Sox style clubhouse far better than the Yankees and he has something to prove to New York.

But the Yankees got Randy Johnson, World Series co-MVP and who is a lefty, just like David Wells. A new Yankee versus an ex-Yankee, both near the end of their careers, both with something to prove, both lefties. One, David Wells, is a proven big-game winner. The other, Randy Johnson, isn’t a proven big-game winner but everyone knows he was brought here for one goal and one goal only: to get a World Series ring for New York, much like Curt Schilling was brought on board for the Red Sox a year ago.

That’s a pretty good storyline there, folks.

Then the Red Sox opening day could feature Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina, unless the Yankees took advantage of their two off-days also. They could even swap Mussina and Johnson mid-week to ensure Johnson got the Red Sox at Fenway. They could go Johnson – OFF – Mussina – Pavano – OFF – Wright – Brown – Mussina – Johnson. Honestly, I doubt the Yankees nor the Red Sox are going to mix up their rotation just to get prime-time pitching matchups, so I can’t see the Yankees doing this concept here.

But the Red Sox? To save Schilling for his debut in Fenway Park on Red Sox Opening Day? To allow him time to continue progressing in Spring Training? Most absolutely.