Pedro 'very important,' Schilling says

Updated: December 2, 2003, 10:24 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling wants a good-natured rivalry with the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, Pedro Martinez.

"I want to pitch better than him, but not because he pitches bad," Schilling said Monday. "I want him to throw a gem, and me to throw a better gem."

There was no announcement about who would be managing them. Oakland bench coach Terry Francona is considered the front-runner, and a decision is expected within a few days. He did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Team president Larry Lucchino, who was on the West Coast, referred questions to Charles Steinberg, executive vice president for public affairs. Steinberg said he had no information about whether club officials had been in touch with Francona on Monday, but "we expect the search for the manager to conclude shortly."

Anaheim bench coach Joe Maddon, who was interviewed in person and by telephone, said Monday he last spoke with the Red Sox on Nov. 21.

"They'll probably call me (Tuesday) at some point," Maddon said. "When the Schilling thing happened, that kind of put everything on hold."

Schilling has praised Francona, his manager from 1997 through 2000 with Philadelphia. But Maddon didn't think that would affect the managerial choice.

"I can't even imagine, based on the discussions I've had with those people, that they would let anything influence them from the outside," Maddon said.

Francona and Schilling have both passed physicals administered by the Red Sox.

The last ace Schilling teamed up with was Randy Johnson. That partnership ended when Boston completed a trade with Arizona last Friday that brought Schilling to the Red Sox for pitchers Casey Fossum and Brandon Lyon and two minor leaguers.

Now Schilling, who has never won a Cy Young award, is part of an outstanding rotation with Martinez, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield.

"My goal right now is to try to take the Cy Young away from Pedro, or Derek or Tim," Schilling said in a radio interview. Martinez "being here next year was very, very important to me."

He said he spoke Sunday with Martinez, a three-time Cy Young winner who would like an extension of his contract that has one year and $17.5 million remaining. Schilling will make at least $12 million under the last year of his contract with Arizona and agreed to a two-year extension through 2006 worth $25.5 million.

"For me it would be a pleasure to negotiate with Boston," Martinez said. "In baseball there are no guarantees, but obviously we are a better team with Schilling."

Schilling, who was sidelined much of 2003 with injuries and finished the season 8-9 with a 2.95 ERA, won 23 games in 2002 and 22 games in 2001.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and other club executives are expected to see Martinez when they visit the Dominican Republic within the next two weeks to inaugurate the team's baseball academy.

Boston also is pursuing free agent closer Keith Foulke, but there was no resolution Monday. Oakland is in the running to keep him.

Meanwhile, Red Sox owner John Henry thanked fans in an e-mail to reporters Sunday and said they were a big reason Schilling accepted the trade.

"So I want to thank all of our fans who have made the Red Sox such a viable economic and spiritual force," he said. "Despite, a very tough ending to the season, our fans are more resolute than ever to see this team succeed."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press