- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Curt Schilling's claim in 2008 that a member of the team's medical staff raised the possibility of treating his injured shoulder with a performance-enhancing drug was "completely baseless," investigations conducted by both the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball concluded, according to two baseball sources with direct knowledge of the investigations.
Schilling, now an ESPN commentator, disputed the report.
"It happened. I informed the club, and there were other players that heard the conversation, who I spoke with after," Schilling told ESPNBoston.com in an email. "The club immediately informed MLB, and they launched an investigation in which all parties were interviewed. If someone's saying it didn't happen, I am not sure why, since the two people in the discussion are gone -- I'm retired and the other person was fired last year, I think. But it doesn't shock me that people would deny it was 'an event,' though I am unsure why."
Schilling had contended Wednesday in an interview with ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd: "It was brought to my attention that [using a banned substance] is a potential path I might want to pursue."
The conversation with the staff member, which according to a source took place during spring training of 2008, was overheard by several teammates, Schilling said. In subsequent interviews, Schilling said it was a member of the medical staff who made the suggestion.
"It was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation," he said, "because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren't in the conversation, but they could clearly hear the conversation. And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not? What did I have to lose? Because if I wasn't going to get healthy, it didn't matter. And if I did get healthy, great. It caught me off guard, to say the least."
Schilling has exonerated, in a number of interviews, a host of people that did not make the suggestion, including members of the front office and the medical staff, but has declined to identify the accused staffer. According to multiple sources, Schilling accused Mike Reinold, who had just been named the team's rehabilitation coordinator in 2008 and with whom the team cut ties after the 2012 season.
Reinold did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Schilling reported the alleged conversation to Terry Francona and Theo Epstein, the team's manager and general manager at the time, and according to MLB sources, Epstein immediately contacted MLB offices in New York, as is required under the terms of baseball's joint drug agreement. Both the Red Sox and MLB subsequently initiated investigations -- "within a week," one source said -- interviewing Schilling, the staff member who allegedly made the comment, and at least one witness to the conversation.
The investigations were thorough, the sources said, and the players' union was informed, and both probes came to the same conclusion.
"Completely baseless," one source said. "It didn't happen. The staff member did not say it, and he had no PED history whatsoever."
Schilling told ESPNBoston.com there was no team probe into the incident.
"Schilling didn't stand up enough [to investigators] for what he said happened," one MLB source said. "Our investigation also discovered there was some [bad] history between Schilling and [Reinold].
"Investigators interviewed one witness to the conversation, who said he did not think in any way that [Reinold] said, 'Hey, this is something you should consider.' "
Schilling told WEEI.com on Thursday night that he regretted not being more forthcoming to investigators at the time.
The Red Sox medical staff has undergone a number of changes in recent years. Reinold was given greater responsibility after the team reshuffled its medical staff and cut ties with Dr. Thomas Gill after the 2011 season, but several players were known to have issues with him. The team's manager in 2012, Bobby Valentine, also complained that Reinold exercised too much control over when injured players were cleared to play.
MLB issued a statement Friday, saying it considered the matter closed.