Arizona pitcher Curt Schilling meets the media during Tuesday's press conference at Bank One Ballpark.
The pitching depth that the Diamondbacks’ organization takes great pride in will now be tested to the fullest.
Already without Randy Johnson, Arizona lost its other ace on Tuesday as Curt Schilling will likely miss at least a month with two fractured bones in his right (pitching) hand.
Schilling suffered the injury Friday at San Diego, when he was hit in the back of the hand by a line drive off the bat of Sean Burroughs. Earlier in the game, Schilling took Ramon Vazquez’s comebacker off his index finger.
“You would think a month would be on the short side,” D-Backs manager Bob Brenly said. “Optimistically, he can be back right before the (All-Star) break. Pessimistically, it would be a little bit after.”
The 36-year-old Schilling, who has a 4-3 record and a 3.04 ERA, suffered a hairline fracture of the third metacarpal and a chipped fourth metacarpal. He will wear a removable cast for three weeks.
Schilling will be placed on the disabled list today. Rookie Andrew Good will be called up from Class AAA Tucson to start tonight’s contest against the Chicago White Sox.
“You can (lament the situation), but why?” Schilling said. “It is what it is. I don’t have a choice. My hand is broken. I have to do what I have to to get better, and I have to be a teammate, to try to do all I can to help the young pitchers get better.”
With Schilling and Johnson sidelined — Johnson has been out since April 28 with a right knee injury that required surgery — the D-Backs’ starting rotation through Sunday’s game against Cleveland has four rookies: Good, Edgar Gonzalez, John Patterson and Andrew Webb.
The quartet owns six major league victories between them.
“With the big horses down, that means we have to step it up,” Patterson said. “We’re not going to put pressure on ourselves, but at the same time, that means we will have to go out there and be even more focused.”
Arizona could stay with four rookies for the time being if Miguel Batista moves to the bullpen, as has been discussed but tabled over the weekend.
“The upside is that all these rookies we have thrown into the fire have done well for themselves,” said Brenly, whose team has used eight rookie pitchers, the most in the majors.
“They’ve pitched with poise, and I hope they don’t wake up and realize what it is they’ve been doing. And I think our offense will produce more runs because we need to.”
An emergency-room physician in San Diego said X-rays on Schilling were negative. However, Schilling sensed a serious injury, and those fears were confirmed when swelling in the hand did not subside.
The damaged metacarpals (five long bones in the hand, running from the wrist to the fingers) were revealed in an MRI exam on Tuesday.
“I said over the last 72 hours that something wasn’t right,” Schilling said. “The swelling was not going away, even with the immobilization. In fact, it was getting a little worse.”
Going into Tuesday’s play, the D-Backs trailed the San Francisco Giants by 9 1/2 games in the National League West. The Diamondbacks have placed 10 players, eight pitchers, on the disabled list this season. Now, both of the Big Two — who made a combined 139 starts in 2001 and ’02 — are on the shelf.
Still, the team has hope that the season can be saved.
“We’ve had more than our share of injuries, but that’s part of the game,” Brenly said. “We’ll deal with it.. . .
“At some point, we’ll get all these guys back. If our young guys can keep our heads above water, that will be something to look forward to.”