Schilling takes ball in opener

Schilling responsible for starting season right

Curt Schilling knew that manager Terry Francona was going to give him the ball on Opening Day. Schilling sure wanted it, too, but only for the right reason.

Even at 40, it is still important for Schilling to be an ace. But he wants to pitch like one, and not just carry around the title as a status symbol for all he's done in the game.

So here Schilling is, ready to take the ball against the Royals in Game No. 1 out of 162. Does he feel like he did earn the nod?

"That's the goal; we'll find out in October," said Schilling. "It really is something that is much less of a big deal after Opening Day. After Opening Day, it's irrelevant. But I've always looked at it as very much an honor. It's something I'm very proud to do."

For Schilling, this is the seventh Opening Day start of his career. Judging by past history, it is a day he gets revved up for. Schilling is 3-0 with a 2.93 ERA in Opening Day starts.

Judging by the camp Schilling has had, he is primed for the season.

"I feel good, very good about where I'm at right now," said Schilling. "I certainly feel I'm far ahead of where I was last year."

opening day 2007

Schilling spent Spring Training refining his changeup, which he feels is going to be a vital pitch for him this season.

For his career, Schilling is 207-138 and has 3,015 strikeouts.

Through all his individual achievements, being part of a winning team is what continues to drive Schilling. He has already won two World Series rings and would very much like to hit the trifecta.

Getting off to a good start doesn't guarantee long-term success. But in Schilling's mind, it certainly doesn't hurt.

  Red Sox probable lineup
 Pos.Name
1.SSJulio Lugo
2.1BKevin Youkilis
3.DHDavid Ortiz
4.LFManny Ramirez
5.RFJ.D. Drew
6.3BMike Lowell
7.CJason Varitek
8.CFCoco Crisp
9.2BDustin Pedroia

"I absolutely believe you can generate momentum, but there is so much parity that you don't go into a three, six, nine-game stretch where you're playing any patsies anymore," said Schilling. "There are none. There [are] teams that can go out there and roll up 10, 12 runs a night that aren't upper division teams. That's the big difference for me. But yeah, I think you can absolutely generate momentum early in the year and ride it."

The ride for Schilling and the 2007 Sox officially starts on Monday.

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Curt Schilling, 15-7, 3.97 ERA in 2006
In last year's opener, Schilling defeated the Rangers by allowing just five hits and two runs over seven innings. After an injury-plagued 2005 season, Schilling re-emerged into one of the most dependable aces in the game last year. His 183 strikeouts were fifth in the American League. In his career against the Royals, Schilling is 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

KC: RHP Gil Meche, 11-8, 4.48 ERA in 2006
The big free-agent prize for the Royals makes his KC debut in this one. Meche tied a career high with 32 starts last year. He established career highs in innings (186 2/3) and strikeouts (156). Meche is 3-1 lifetime against the Red Sox with a 4.35 ERA.

Player to watch
Royals third baseman Alex Gordon is one of the most heralded rookies entering the 2007 season. He clubbed 29 homers at Double-A Wichita last season.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WRKO-680 AM

Up next
• Wednesday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 16-11, 5.01) at Royals (LHP Odalis Perez, 6-8, 6.20), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Red Sox (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Major League debut) at Royals (RHP Zach Greinke, 1-0, 4.26), 2:10 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.