Francona says Schilling won't start opener

Updated: March 19, 2005, 7:16 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Curt Schilling will miss Opening Day with the Red Sox, setting up David Wells to start against his former team, the New York Yankees.

Boston manager Terry Francona made the announcement Saturday and said Schilling might sit out the first two weeks.

Schilling, coming back from ankle surgery last November, will make his first start of spring training in a minor league game Monday and there was no word on when he would pitch against a major league opponent.

There even was a possibility Schilling would open the season on the disabled list since the Red Sox have three days off in the first 10 days and won't need a fifth starter until their 13th game, at home against Toronto on April 18.

"We're going to have a four-man rotation through the 18th," Francona said.

Schilling has said his ankle and arm aren't bothering him. But his mechanics aren't back to their pre-surgery level.

Wells will pitch opening night in Yankee Stadium on April 3.

"I'm sure he'll rise to the occasion," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He loves that type of stage, and we just have to go out there and do the best we can and hope that we're better. It doesn't surprise me. He's got the experience."

After an off day, Matt Clement will pitch on Tuesday and Tim Wakefield on Wednesday in the final game of the series. After another off day, Bronson Arroyo will open a three-game series in Toronto on April 8.

That would set up Wakefield to pitch the home opener against the Yankees on April 11.

Wells, signed in the offseason as a free agent from San Diego, pitched with the Yankees in 1997, '98, 2002 and '03.

"He's been there before and he's a veteran," Francona said. "If [the opener] doesn't go the way we want to, he'll be fine and then we bring Clement back the second game, get his legs under him. I just think it sets up best for our whole, entire staff to let David take the ball the first night."

Clement also was a free agent who played last year with the Chicago Cubs and hasn't pitched in nearly as many big games as Wells, who has seven World Series starts and was part of the Yankees championship team in 1998.

"It doesn't get any better than that," Clement said about starting his Red Sox career against the Yankees. "I'm excited. That's why I came here, to pitch in those kind of games. ... It's an honor to be able to throw in any of those first three games."

Schilling pitched in Game 6 of last year's AL Championship Series against New York and Game 2 of the World Series against St. Louis after a tendon that had been slipping out of place in his right ankle was sutured to the skin. He won both and Boston went on to sweep St. Louis.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press