P H O E N I X, July 26, 2000 -- Adding Curt Schilling to a staff that includes
Randy Johnson, the Arizona Diamondbacks head into the pennant race
with one of the most powerful 1-2 pitching combinations in
“Koufax and Drysdale come to mind,” Arizona general managerJoe Garagiola Jr. said after Wednesday’s 4-for-1 trade withPhiladelphia. “I’ll take these two guys.”
Schilling, who had pushed for a deal to a contender, is headedhome to Phoenix in exchange for first baseman-outfielder Travis Leeand pitchers Omar Daal, Vicente Padilla and Nelson Figueroa.
“I will leave here with nothing but the best memories on andoff the field,” Schilling said during a news conference atVeterans Stadium in Philadelphia. “I was booed so much less than Iprobably deserve to be booed here, which I don’t think too manypeople leaving Philly can say.
“It’s not as tough as you think because it’s all pretty much myfault. I would create problems that shouldn’t have been made.”
Will Start Friday
Arizona, the defending NL West champion, began Wednesday infirst place, one game ahead of San Francisco. Schilling is to makehis Diamondbacks’ debut Friday at Florida.
“There aren’t many teams who have a couple of number ones onthe roster on their pitching staff like we feel we do with Randyand Curt Schilling,” Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said.“This could be a very significant addition in a very tight pennantrace.”
As part of the deal, Schilling waived his right to demand atrade following the season, a power given to veterans traded whileunder a multiyear contract.
“He can only pitch once every fifth day,” manager BuckShowalter said before the Diamondbacks played at St. Louis.“Hopefully, this will be a new chapter for us. We’ve taken a lotof blows after 100 games and we’re still standing.”
Free Agent After 2001 Season
Schilling recently told the Phillies there were about ahalf-dozen teams he would allow himself to be dealt to. He ismaking $5.65 million this season and is signed for next season at$6.5 million. After the 2001 season, he becomes eligible for freeagency.
“The reality of the deal is that we are giving up, obviously,one of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball,” Philliesgeneral manager Ed Wade said. “In getting these four players, weanswer a lot of needs. Did we get Curt Schilling back in this deal?Obviously we didn’t.”
Yanks, Mets in Hunt
Monday is the deadline for making deals without waivers. The NewYork Yankees also had been talking to Philadelphia about Schilling,a baseball executive said on the condition of anonymity, but theextent of their interest was unclear. The New York Mets also hadbeen interested.
The Cleveland Indians made a run at Schilling last week. St.Louis and Seattle also were considered contenders to land the33-year-old pitcher. The Cardinals offered outfielder J.D. Drew andpitcher Matt Morris, one source said.
“We explored it quite extensively with every club that was onthe list,” Wade said. “He made it clear that if the opportunitypresents itself, he wouldn’t stand in the way. Obviously it wasn’ta great surprise to him that this happened.”
Schilling (6-6) started clearing out his locker Tuesday. Thestarter in last year’s All-Star game, he had shoulder surgery inthe off-season and struggled at first after rejoining the Phillies.
Coming on Strong
However, he has pitched complete games in three of his last fourstarts. He is 5-2 with a 2.00 ERA in his last eight starts, six ofthem Phillies victories. He has lasted at least seven innings inhis last eight starts.
“In the last week and a half, I heard enough rumblings that Iknew it was going to happen,” Schilling said. “I’m in a pennantrace now, and now it’s time to ante up on the mound.”
Arizona sorely needed another starter because of the injury toTodd Stottlemyre and the struggles of Daal. Stottlemyre has beensidelined for a month with a slight tear in his elbow and is notexpected to return until September, at the earliest.
Schilling, who is likely to pitch against ex-Phillies pitcherAndy Ashby next Wednesday at Atlanta, has a 105-89 career recordand won at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons.
Schilling had been with the Phillies since 1992, when he wasacquired from Houston for right-hander Jason Grimsley.
The left-handed hitting Lee was signed to a then-record $10million signing bonus by Arizona before its 1998 expansion season.He was considered the cornerstone of the young franchise, but hehas struggled at the plate the last two seasons.
Lee was optioned to Triple-A Tucson on July 16 to work on hishitting. He was 5-for-5 in a recent contest.
‘Very Bright Future’
“Travis has struggled this year and I still believe that he hasa very bright future,” Colangelo said. “We’ll be pulling forhim.”
Daal, 16-9 last season with a 3.65 ERA, is 2-10 with a 7.22 ERAthis year and has lost his spot in the starting rotation. He is tostart for the Phillies on Friday.
“I know that I have not had a good year this year,” Daal said.“They need someone to be a starter and Schilling is a greatstarter. That’s how it works.”
Padilla, 22, has been strong out of the bullpen this season andthe Diamondbacks had projected him as a possible starter in thefuture. He is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and could serve as closer forPhiladelphia.
“If I could have acquired Curt Schilling for a rosin bag and acracked fungo, that would have been the deal I would have made,”Garagiola said. “Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work that way.”
Figueroa, 26, considered Arizona’s best pitcher at Tucson, madea couple of appearances for the Diamondbacks this season. He was0-2 with a 7.47 ERA for the Diamondbacks.
“We feel that we have improved our ballclub, improved thefuture of our ballclub,” Wade said. “I wish we could have done itwithout losing Curt Schilling, but obviously we couldn’t. If theseguys come in and do what they’re capable of doing, we’re not veryfar from being where we want to be.”