It's still vivid in the mind's eye.

There was Curt Shilling of the Boston Red Sox on the mound in the 2004 American League championship series, seemingly in excruciating pain, pitching against the New York Yankees, with a bloody sock.

Talk about playing through pain. Most of us grimaced each time he put his weight on his foot. We felt for him. We sympathized. And, remarkably, he excelled.


Well, according to Baltimore Orioles announcer Gary Thorne, that wasn’t blood on Schilling’s sock.

It was red paint.

Thorne told his viewers this week that Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli revealed the not-so-bloody truth to him.

“It was painted,” Thorne said. “Mirabelli confessed up to it. It was all for PR.”

Mirabelli denied Thorne’s information.

•Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo was fuming over what he called a lack of respect shown to him by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez the other night in Baltimore.

Lugo asked for time in the batter’s box. Hernandez did not grant it, and Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera threw a called strike. As Lugo stared incredulously at Hernandez and began asking him what happened, the umpire motioned that Cabrera could pitch again. He did, with Lugo out of the box. Hernandez called strike two. Lugo grounded out on the next pitch.

“He’s hard to talk to,” Lugo said of Hernandez. “There’s something wrong with him. He’s got to protect me and respect my time, too. For him to earn the respect of players, he has to respect the players.”

John Patterson entered spring training as the Washington Nationals' No. 1 starter and the only pitcher with a guaranteed spot in the rotation.

After Wednesday night's performance, however, Patterson owns a ghastly earned-run average of 7.71 and he could be demoted to the bullpen before long.

Barry Bonds is impressing folks with his presumably drug-free power so far this season, but he is impressing no one with his behaviour in the clubhouse.

He continues to snub and mistreat reporters. He often walks past them and ignores their questions.

Generally, folks loathe Bonds, which explains why the legendary Hank Aaron won’t be in the stadium when Bonds ties or erases his career home-run record.

Detroit Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield, however, thinks Aaron ought to bite the bullet and turn up for the historical events.

"As a player on the outside looking in,” Sheffield said, “I wish Aaron would attend. We've been through a lot as African Americans and I just believe we should support each other."

• Detroit manager Jim Leyland on the travel the Tigers faced on a recent Anaheim-to-Chicago road trip:

"It was stupid," he said. " It's not a matter of being bad, but of stupid scheduling."

• Despite the threat of cancer, major-leaguers are still using tobacco ad nauseum.

Estimates suggest that about one in three players use tobacco products, all legal, during the season.

In the general population, about one in 10 males are users.

According to the National Cancer Institute, smokeless-tobacco users develop oral cancer at about 50 times the rate of the general population.

The legendary Babe Ruth died in 1948 from oral cancer.

• Members of the Chicago Cubs’ coaching staff were involved in shouting matches and confrontations with umpires twice in the span of four days.

On Monday night, hitting coach Gerald Perry got into it with the umps in the tunnel leading to the clubhouses. Four days earlier, manager Lou Piniella and the umps had a heated exchange in the tunnel.

Major-league sources said a report written by umpiring crew chief Brian Gorman and sent to baseball headquarters included a claim that Perry had to be restrained from going after umpire Paul Nauert and had challenged him to a fight.

Perry denied the charges.

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