Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling on D&C: Juan Nieves firing a 'wake-up call' for Red Sox starters

May 20, 2015 - 5:39 am

ESPN analyst and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning to discuss the Sox rotation, Deflategate and tobacco use. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. Red Sox starters seem to finally be waking up, and have done so after pitching coach Juan Nieves was fired and replaced with Carl Willis. According to Schilling, though, the exact reason for the change is tough to pinpoint. "They're just pitching better," he said. "I don't know how to explain it other than stuff happens. These guys were supposed to be this good out of the gate and sometimes a group of guys kind of gets a wake-up call by realizing that they did cost somebody their job, and they did." Schilling added that while he doesn't "know that [he's] ever seen a coach that got fired deserve it" for the most part, there's not a lot else that can be done. "You can't fire a team, you can't fire a pitching staff, you can't fire a bullpen or rotation, so somebody has to be responsible," he said. "Look at the commentary around Nieves when he got hired, this guy's been nothing but and gotten nothing but praise and accolades for the job that he's done, and these guys opened up the season and cost him his job." One of the biggest differences between Nieves and Willis, Schilling noted, is that the former focuses on a hitter's weaknesses while the latter spends more time on the pitcher's strengths. For Schilling, what worked best was a combination of the two as he mapped out what he could do, what he couldn't do, where the hitters' holes were and how he planned to beat that. Schilling also shed light on why guys like Pablo Sandoval, who struggles so much from one side of the plate, don't just quit switch-hitting. "Some guys are just so uncomfortable hitting against a guy who makes stuff kind of move away from them, same-side guys, and that's what it ends up being," he said. "Guys are so paranoid about facing a pitcher and having stuff that breaks away from them on the arm side that they can't do it because it does seem very easy, very logical doesn't it? 'Hey, dude, you're 1-for-400 on this side, uncle already,' but, 'Hey, it'll come, it'll come,' and it just doesn't." Just about 40 games into the season, the Yankees still sit atop the division, though the lead they hold there isn't all that large. Schilling said that because no one in the rest of the AL East isn't particularly dominant, the Yankees could very well keep that spot for the season. "This is not your father's American League East anymore," he said. "I don't think there's anybody you look at and go, 'Wow, these guys can just run away with it.' I think there's a lot of holes in this division, I think all the rosters have a ton of questions. I think it's going to get back to starting pitching and who gets the most innings out of their rotation." Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at On Deflategate being much ado about nothing: "This is what you do when you universally despise someone for being ultra-successful. I kept asking people about this because it grew rapidly out of, I thought, very little, but if this is 2000, nobody cares. If this is Jacksonville, nobody cares. When you've won and the thing that I think I find probably most amazing about both of these incidents is the lack of, I don't want to say cooperation, but like the NFL and the other teams backing away from the Patriots going, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe you did that,' when every one of them does the exact same thing. It just blows me away." On whether guys who chew tobacco during games know what they're doing: "It's an addiction. At the end of the day, it's an incredibly challenging, incredibly hard thing. I don't get upset, it's disappointing but some guys really believe that they can't do A or B without C, and athletes are a big part of that group and I know why they do it. I did it for 30-plus years, I totally get it. The addiction is just insane. The challenge is now, I can't tell you not to, I don't think that's my place, but I can tell you what's going to happen if you do. If you chew and if it's something you do as a habit, you're going to get cancer, and that's the scary part." On quitting tobacco and getting guys to quit: "That's one of the things that I had a real challenging time wrestling with when I got done with, that there are kids out there that do this because I did it and that was one of those motivators to quit, but it still wasn't enough. Again, 30-some years and the signs that I was given over and over and over and over again, none of them were kind of, 'That's OK, that's not a big deal,' they were bleeding, gum loss, tissue loss, all of these horrifically terrible physical things that you just don't know when you start, and then when you start, none of them is motivator enough to stop, wasn't for me anyway, and so I look around and realize they're grown men, I don't know that you're legally going to be able to make them stop, but what you can do from baseball's perspective is make the act illegal inside your sport or in your stadiums, and I think that's the approach."