Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling on D&C: 'If losing isn’t physically painful to you, you’re never going to be great'

May 06, 2015 - 6:31 am

ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Red Sox rotation and other things happening around baseball. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. The discussion has been had time and time again, but the Sox' lack of a clear No. 1 pitcher is hurting them in more ways than one, according to Schilling. "When you have an ace, you don't go five days in a row giving up seven runs in five innings," he said. "Number one, a true [No. 1] stops stuff like that, and number two, when you're an ace, you end up sitting down and saying, 'All right, listen, boys, here's the way this is going to work, you're going to knock him on his ass,' and if anything happens, he'll look at the next guy and say he'll take care of it the next night or whatever that is, and when you don't have that, that's a problem." Schilling pointed out that so many of the really good teams, including Boston's 2004, 2007 and 2013 rosters, all not only had a No. 1, but also a 1A. When that happens, the likelihood of a team doing well increases dramatically. For the Red Sox brass, the thought was, as Schilling said, the rotation would be five guys who were going to be "average good to really good," and that if alterations needed to be made, they would take place at the deadline. "They have an enormously deep pool of prospects to deal," Schilling said. "Problem now for me is not whether they can get a Cole Hamels or not, it's whether or not they're going to need him at the deadline or not." While manager John Farrell was a pitching coach, Schilling said it's not his choice to make someone better or not. It starts with the player himself and how much he wants it. "There are a lot of guys that you try to make better who [say,] 'Hey ... I'm content. I'm in the big leagues, I'm making X million dollars a year, Life's good,' " Schilling said. "There are a lot of guys like that, the problem is that that attitude is as infectious as fear is in combat. Joe Kelly talked about winning the Cy Young before the season. I like that. I don't care what it looks like, I like that because it means that you've got either some overconfidence or confidence and with his stuff, he should have it. Problem is it's not translating. "I played with so many guys that just wanted to be in the big leagues -- 'This is fun, this is amazing,' and I couldn't do that. I wasn't built like that. I hated losing so much that it was painful, physically painful, and we talked about Clay [Buchholz] earlier in the year and everybody took it as I was slamming him. I'm not slamming him. There are just certain things you're born with, certain things you have and things you don't, and if losing isn't physically painful to you, you're never going to be great because you have to hate losing so much you'll do whatever you can do to make it not happen." For Schilling, who cited the righty as someone with the stuff to succeed at a high level, Kelly's struggles highlight something that Schilling dealt with as a pitcher in the majors. He might not have been the best pitcher or had the best stuff, but he knew his strengths and weaknesses and went into every game with a plan, having watched film to prepare for his opponents on any given day. "At my peak I was a two-pitch pitcher, but my fastball was six pitches," he said. "There's something you have to do as a professional athlete, I don't care what sport it is, you have to be honest with yourself. Here's what I can do and here's what I can't do, and that's not to say, 'I'm not good at this,' or, 'I'm not good at that.' I knew I had an average curveball at best, I had a very bad, average slider, I had a great fastball from a command perspective, and my split was filthy when you put it with my fastball, but I was a two-pitch pitcher. I realized I couldn't do that unless I went out with something else, and that was a game plan. "I did what I did because I hated losing," Schilling added. "I was looking for any way I could within the boundaries of the rules to fix that. For me, it was preparation." Almost 30 games into the season, Schilling points out that it's not early anymore and that you're starting to see who's who in the league. His only question, his only "if" coming into the season aside from pitching, was whether or not Dustin Pedroia was healthy. With one swing of the bat on Opening Day, Pedroia answered Schilling's question when he hit a home run. For other teams, like the Yankees, things weren't as clear. "Every single player but [Jacoby] Ellsbury and [Brett] Gardner on that team was an if, everyone in spring training," Schilling said. "Remember when [Alex Rodriguez] reported in spring training how weird that was? If I would have said in early February, 'Hey, listen, going into May, A-Rod's going to be leading the Yankee offense, [Masahiro] Tanaka's going to be on the DL and they're going to be four games up,' how much money would you have bet against that one? And Joe Girardi, I never played for a guy like him, but my god, you've got to give the guy some credit because what he's done with them over the last couple years compared to what they've had, it's been impressive."