ST. LOUIS -- The big if -- whether Curt Schilling be able to pitch again in this World Series -- is a lot clearer in the mind of the man who would likely take Schilling's place in a potential Game 6.
Essentially, from what Bronson Arroyo has heard from the team, the chance of Schilling getting his ailing right ankle sutured up one more time and taking the ball again is less than 50 percent. Arroyo is taking that percentage with a mammoth grain of salt.
"They're saying there's more a possibility that he won't pitch than he will," said Arroyo. "But they said before a couple other starts, too. I know, when it comes down to it, when they numb that thing up, he's going to go out there regardless.
"I know if Game 6 rolls around, or Game 7, he will be on the mound. I guarantee it. It doesn't matter what they say up until the day of that start. He will be on the mound that day. Whether he goes three, four, five innings and have to shut it down, he'll be out there."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona seemed to share Arroyo's view.
"We always try to think ahead," said Francona. "But we're going to try and win tonight. We just keep all the options open. If something ever happened that was out of the ordinary, we would adjust. We have guys who are able to do it and willing to do it.
"Back to Schil, I think as the closer it gets to his time to pitch, his mentality changes so drastically. You may look at him now or yesterday and say, [no way]. But as it gets closer to that day, that face changes. I didn't [think he wouldn't pitch] the other day. Maybe I should have been shook up. But I was thinking, 'He'll be fine, the doctor will do his thing and then he'll pitch.' And 20 minutes later, [Schilling] was [complaining] about not having the [opposing] lineup [card]."
No matter what happens in this series, the Red Sox would only ask Schilling to pitch one more time, at most. Francona is thankful for that because of the stitching process the right-hander has had to undergo to make his last two starts.
"I just don't know medically enough how he would feel," said Francona. "I don't doubt they would do it. I'm glad there's not going to be a lot more attempts at this. We're getting down to the end of this."
Bench is stacked: The way the Red Sox bench is currently constructed, it was almost as if general manager Theo Epstein was planning for the World Series. The Boston bench couldn't shape up any better for these next three games in the National League park, where double-switching and pinch-hitting will become a way of life.
The Sox have a left-handed-hitting speedster in outfielder Dave Roberts. Gabe Kapler, with a little less speed, is the perfect right-handed complement to Roberts. Pokey Reese also has speed and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at second base. Doug Mientkiewicz is nothing short of a defensive stopper at first. And Kevin Millar's big bat from the right side will also be available for late-inning usage with David Ortiz taking over for him at first base.
"That's a credit to Theo Epstein, because he had a vision for the stretch run and the postseason," said Roberts. "We have a deeper team than I think any Red Sox team has had in many years."
Roberts, in particular, should be primed to influence some of these games with his speed and glove.
"This type of baseball, with the double-switching and everything, more people are being used," said Roberts. "I'm preparing myself every day to go out there and play, and I can say the same thing for Pokey Reese, Doug Mientkiewicz and Doug Mirabelli. We're all of that same mind-set."
Lineup adjustments: With Millar out of the lineup and starter Pedro Martinez occupying the ninth slot in the order, Francona did some shifting. Bill Mueller is batting sixth, followed by Trot Nixon and Mark Bellhorn. Orlando Cabrera is batting second, as he did in the first two games.
Orlando Cabrera / SS
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"The idea with hitting Billy Mueller sixth, especially the way [Jeff] Suppan pitches, is that he picks his spots so much," said Francona. "And the other thing, is when Ray King comes in, we'd rather have Tony [La Russa] have to pick his spots. We've got our lefties 1, 4 and 7."
Francona thinks Bellhorn's strong plate discipline will make him a better fit hitting in front of the pitcher than Cabrera.
"[Cabrera] can bunt if we need it," said Francona. "And I think hitting Cabrera eighth, at least tonight, would take away some of his strengths, because he will chase the ball out of the zone a little bit and Bellhorn doesn't."
Gone, but not forgotten: According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox voted to give former shortstop Nomar Garciaparra a full postseason share.
Garciaparra was dealt to the Cubs on July 31 in the four-tem exchange that brought Cabrera and Mientkiewicz to Boston.
The two-time batting champion was an icon in his years with the Red Sox. He called some of his longtime teammates to wish them well on the eve of the World Series.
"He wished us well and told me to tell the guys he was thinking about them and was happy for us," Nixon told the newspaper. "We all understand that certain things happen in baseball you can't control, but for as long as he was with the team and for everything he did, it doesn't feel right that he's not here."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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