BOSTON Curt Schilling could be throwing off a mound by January after having shoulder surgery Monday that keeps him on target to pitch by the middle of next season if he decides to return.
The Red Sox former ace had his right biceps tendon and labrum repaired, and there was no meaningful rotator cuff problem as feared, Dr. Craig Morgan told The Associated Press after completing the operation in Wilmington, Del.
"This really is a best-case scenario," Morgan said by cell phone after the one-hour, 45-minute procedure.
Schilling, who hasn't pitched this season, decided last week to have the operation after the rehabilitation the team preferred didn't relieve the pain he felt when throwing from a mound at far below maximum effort. Morgan had recommended surgery, a difference of opinion that sparked a spring-training melodrama.
The 41-year-old right-hander and postseason star knew it would end his season and possibly his career especially if the rotator cuff had torn away from the bone. But he felt he had no choice if he wanted to pitch again, for Boston or any other club.
Chances of pitching again seem more likely after the operation.
"He wants to pitch one more year if it's structurally possible with the type of surgery that went on," Morgan said. "My answer is: It is structurally possible if all goes well with the healing process, and I don't have control over that."
Schilling announced plans for season-ending surgery last Friday on WEEI radio and said he could be a "hired gun" who joins a contending team for the last three months of the 2009 season. But he also told the station there's a "pretty decent chance that I've thrown my last pitch forever."
In 20 years he is 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in the regular season and ended last season with 3,116 strikeouts, 14th most in history.
PIRATES' SNELL INJURED: Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Ian Snell's sore pitching elbow could force him to miss his scheduled start Friday against Tampa Bay, but he appears to have avoided a serious injury. Snell complained of elbow soreness after lasting four innings of an 8-5 loss to Toronto on Sunday. He underwent tests Monday to determine if he had ligament damage and was told by team doctors he has golfer's elbow the overuse of an elbow muscle. Snell (3-7, 5.99 ERA), the Pirates' opening day starter, is 1-7 in 14 starts since April 12.
JOHNSON MAY BE GONE: Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson will undergo surgery Tuesday on his injured right wrist and may not return this season. "We'll know more tomorrow when they operate, but there's a possibility he might be out for the year," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said before Monday night's game against the Angels. Johnson has been on the disabled list since May 15 with a tear in the tendon sheath of his right wrist.
D-BACKS ACTIVATE BYRNES: The Arizona Diamondbacks activated outfielder Eric Byrnes off the 15-day disabled list Monday and optioned outfielder Alex Romero to Triple-A Tucson. Byrnes missed 25 games with tears in both hamstrings and went on the DL on May 27. He finished a three-game rehabilitation stint with Single-A Visalia with one hit in 12 at-bats. Byrnes was reinstated in time for Monday's series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
PERALTA REJOINS ROYALS: Reliever Joel Peralta was recalled by the Kansas City Royals on Monday. Peralta, a 32-year-old right-hander, was with the Royals earlier this season. He was optioned back to the minors after going 0-2 with a 5.64 ERA in 18 appearances. At Triple-A Omaha, he went 1-0 with two saves and did not allow a run in 18 2/3 innings.
CASEY DROPS APPEAL: Boston Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey dropped his appeal of a three-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl with the Tampa Bay Rays. Casey will begin serving his suspension immediately. Outfielder Coco Crisp, meanwhile, had his hearing Monday in Boston and is awaiting word from Major League Baseball on whether his seven-game suspension will be reduced. In all, eight players from the Red Sox and Rays were suspended a total of 38 games following the June 5 brawl.
TEAMS TO DON STARS & STRIPES: The 30 major league teams will wear special Stars & Stripes caps during games on the Fourth of July weekend and on Sept. 11 as part of a "Welcome Back Veterans" program created by New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon. The Welcome Back Veterans logo will be on bases used that weekend. Wilpon said he hopes the campaign will raise $100 million. Major League Baseball plans to donate a portion of the revenue from the sale of the special caps. Baseball spokesman Rich Levin would not specify how much money from the cap sales would be donated.