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PROCEDURE LEAVES SCHILLING STITCHED UP AND READY TO GO

Red Sox ace Curt Schilling had his injured right ankle sutured again Saturday and proclaimed himself ready to make his start tonight in Game Two of the World Series.

Schilling said the procedure, done by Boston team physician William Morgan, was largely the same as what he endured Monday prior to Game Six of the American League Championship Series. Schilling then pitched seven innings in Tuesday's 4-2 win at New York that pulled the Red Sox even in the series.

Four stitches were placed in the ankle this time as opposed to three because one popped in New York while Schilling was warming up before the game. That accounted for the blood stain that formed on Schilling's sock and earned as much air time on Fox as his face.

"We weren't as rushed today as the first time we did it so (Morgan) allowed the painkiller to actually work this time," Schilling joked here Saturday. "Without this, there was no way I was going to pitch in Game Six."

The Yankees surprised everyone in the park Tuesday by not testing Schilling's ability to field bunts and forcing him to get off the mound. Schilling said he expected the Cardinals to do that several times tonight.

"I certainly expect them to try to push the envelope that way and run and make things happen," Schilling said.

"If Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds want to bunt, please go over and tell them I said, 'go ahead,' " said Boston manager Terry Francona. "There are some guys that do bunt that we know will bunt and Schill is actually very good at that stuff."

Schilling said his ankle clearly felt better in Game Six than it did when he was shelled for six runs in Game One. But he also said the Yankees did not succeed against his mistakes as often as they did in the opener.

"A couple times we made mistakes with the pitch and got away with it," Schilling said.

Schilling will be opposed by St. Louis righty Matt Morris, who was 15-10 in the regular season. Morris pitched five innings and got a no-decision Wednesday in Game Six of the NLCS against Houston but manager Tony La Russa said he was fine with the decision because Morris had only thrown 80 pitches.

Morris had told reporters here Friday he expected to pitch Game Three Tuesday night in Busch Stadium.

"Things change in a hurry around here," Morris said Saturday. "I haven't pitched on short rest since a Wiffle ball game when I was 10. There's nothing to rest for now. It's all or nothing. I'm not saving myself for anything."

Both teams tinkered with their rosters before Game One. The Red Sox put infielder Kevin Youkilis back on and removed pitcher Ramiro Mendoza, giving them an extra positional player to get through the three games in St. Louis where pitchers will hit.

The Cardinals put pitcher Al Reyes on in place of lefty reliever Steve Kline, who has a torn tendon in his left index finger. Kline's injury is a big loss for the Cardinals as he went 2-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 67 appearances.

"Nobody roots for guys to be hurt but I'm really excited that we don't have to face Steve Kline out of the bullpen," Francona said. "He's one of the top lefty-on-lefty guys. He can be brought in to face (David) Ortiz, (Kevin) Millar, (Trot) Nixon and give us trouble."

"I feel worse for Steve than I do for us," La Russa said. "We'll make the adjustment, compensate and we'll find a way to win. . . . It's really a tough break."

Red Sox catcher Sandy Martinez was traded from the Buffalo Bisons to Boston on Aug. 31 and immediately stepped from Triple-A on to a World Series-bound team. Martinez, who went 0 for 6 in September duty with the Sox, is not on Boston's 25-man active roster but has been traveling with the team throughout the postseason.

"I don't believe it but I'm hoping to get ready to put two championship rings on my fingers in the same year," a beaming Martinez said, referring to Buffalo's title jewelry and a potential Sox triumph. "It's amazing. I'm living a dream and so far the dream is coming true. Even though I'm not playing, it's been a great experience. In '98, I was with the Cubs and we had to win a playoff game (against the Giants) to win the wild card and that was great. But there is nothing like this."

Martinez was presented with the Bisons' Most Inspirational Player Award prior to Buffalo's Aug. 31 home finale and left the field with the trophy never to be seen the rest of the season in Dunn Tire Park. He came into the dugout, was told by manager Marty Brown he had been traded to Boston -- and told to report right to the big leagues rather than Triple-A Pawtucket.

"They didn't play me the two games before that in Buffalo against Syracuse because they were working out the deal but they didn't tell me," Martinez said. "I hit nine home runs against Syracuse this year and they weren't playing me. I was like, 'What the bleep is going on here? Nine home runs and I'm not playing?' The next day, I still wasn't playing but I talked to Marty and he told me to trust him."

Martinez said he followed the Bisons' playoff run with phone calls to hitting coach Carlos Garcia and shortstop Jhonny Peralta. He's one of four ex-Bisons on the Boston roster. The others are Game One starter Tim Wakefield, reliever Alan Embree and outfielder Dave Roberts. Cardinals with Buffalo connections are Kline, pitcher Julian Tavarez and infielder Tony Womack.
e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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