FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - The doctor who claims he knows Curt Schilling's shoulder ``better than anybody who breathes on this planet'' insists surgery is the only way the 20-year veteran can pitch again.
But Boston's team physician disagrees. He believes rehabilitation is the best way for Schilling to play this year.
Caught in the middle are Schilling and his $8 million contract.
``I think his chance of coming back to pitching with rehab or a conservative approach is zero,'' Dr. Craig Morgan said Friday in telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``He might not come back after surgery, either. However, if the surgery is successful, he should be fully rehabbed by about All-Star break.''
Schilling wrote on his blog, 38pitches.com, on Thursday night that he has agreed to the club's request to rely on rest and rehabilitation.
He didn't have much choice if he wanted to avoid having the Red Sox invalidate his contract, Morgan said.
``On our conference call on Wednesday it was their strong recommendation that he go with the conservative approach,'' Morgan said, ``and, furthermore, it was their strong, how do I say this, they would not approve him having surgery. Basically, according to the collective bargaining agreement, if they don't approve it, they don't have to pay him. His contract's null and void.''
Morgan operated on Schilling's right shoulder in 1995 and 1999. In his blog Thursday night, Schilling praised Morgan.
Morgan said among those on the call were Red Sox team physician Dr. Thomas Gill, general manager Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona, Schilling, Schilling's lawyer and New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek.
Altchek was brought in for a third opinion after Morgan and Gill disagreed on a course of treatment.
In a statement Thursday, the Red Sox said: ``Curt Schilling was examined by Red Sox doctors in January after he reported feeling right shoulder discomfort. Curt has started a program of rest, rehabilitation and shoulder strengthening in an attempt to return to pitching.''
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