Curt Schilling had pitched in Toledo prior to last night - but things certainly have changed since that start in 1989.
"That was a long time ago, and it was a bad, bad place to play," Schilling said, remembering the Mud Hens' former home, Skeldon Stadium. "This is a beautiful ballpark. I saw the picture on the wall, and it looked like a big-league stadium."
Of course, things are much different also for the 40-year-old Schilling, who threw five innings of one-hit, shutout baseball in a rehab assignment for Pawtucket last night.
Since his minor-league days, when he pitched for Rochester, Schilling is a six-time all-star who finished second in the Cy Young voting in three different seasons. He has a 213-142 career record with five different clubs, including a 6-4 record with Boston this season.
He went on the disabled list June 19 because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
Last night Schilling cruised through the first four innings of his second rehab start with the PawSox, retiring the first 12 batters before encountering a bit of turbulence in the fifth.
With two outs Brent Clevlen hammered a double to straight-away center, and David Espinosa followed with a high hopper off Schilling's glove behind second. Bobby Scales stopped the ball, but was unable to throw out Espinosa at first. Clevlen tried to score from second but was thrown out at the plate.
"That was a nice play - and a big play in a 1-0 game," Schilling said. "I was happy to not give up runs."
The right-hander's final line included just two hits and no walks allowed in five innings with eight strikeouts. Schilling was in command; he threw 44 strikes in 66 pitches and threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 16 Mud Hens he faced.
"I felt good, I felt strong," Schilling said. "I got stronger as the game went on, and I felt really strong in the fifth.
"There were a lot of good things out there."
In his first rehab start with Pawtucket July 21 he threw three scoreless innings against Louisville, allowing just two walks and no hits while striking out six on 40 pitches, 32 of which were strikes.
Schilling will make a third and final rehab start with the PawSox Tuesday in Columbus.
"It's most important that I feel strong," Schilling said of his rehab goals. "My split [split-finger fastball] is as good as it's ever been, and to have the velocity makes it even better."
"I'm anxious to finish this, to feel strong and get back and help,"
Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson was impressed with Schilling's effort.
"This was a positive night for Red Sox Nation, because Curt Schilling was really good," Johnson said. "His pitches were low going through four innings, and he was really impressive.
"He commanded everything he had, and he was excited by his stuff. He's had two really good rehab starts for us."
Schilling also made headlines yesterday when he said that Barry Bonds' and Mark McGwire's refusal to deny accusations of steroid use are the equivalent of admissions of guilt.
"If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn't sue their [butt] off, am I not admitting that there's some legitimacy to it?" he was quoted as saying on "Costas Now," an HBO program hosted by Bob Costas.
After last night's game Schilling declined comment on any subject not related to last night's start.
NOTES: Schilling kept alive the minor-league tradition of paying for the post-game meal in the clubhouse, purchasing a steak-and-lobster spread from Rockwell's for his Pawtucket teammates.
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