Pedro 'very important,' Schilling says

BOSTON -- Curt Schilling wants a good-natured rivalry with the ace of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff, Pedro Martinez.

"I want to pitch better than him, but not because he pitches
bad," Schilling said Monday. "I want him to throw a gem, and me
to throw a better gem."

There was no announcement about who would be managing them.
Oakland bench coach Terry Francona is considered the front-runner,
and a decision is expected within a few days. He did not
immediately return a call seeking comment.

Team president Larry Lucchino, who was on the West Coast,
referred questions to Charles Steinberg, executive vice president
for public affairs. Steinberg said he had no information about
whether club officials had been in touch with Francona on Monday,
but "we expect the search for the manager to conclude shortly."

Anaheim bench coach Joe Maddon, who was interviewed in person
and by telephone, said Monday he last spoke with the Red Sox on
Nov. 21.

"They'll probably call me (Tuesday) at some point," Maddon
said. "When the Schilling thing happened, that kind of put
everything on hold."

Schilling has praised Francona, his manager from 1997 through
2000 with Philadelphia. But Maddon didn't think that would affect
the managerial choice.

"I can't even imagine, based on the discussions I've had with
those people, that they would let anything influence them from the
outside," Maddon said.

Francona and Schilling have both passed physicals administered
by the Red Sox.

The last ace Schilling teamed up with was Randy Johnson. That
partnership ended when Boston completed a trade with Arizona last
Friday that brought Schilling to the Red Sox for pitchers Casey Fossum and Brandon Lyon and two minor leaguers.

Now Schilling, who has never won a Cy Young award, is part of an
outstanding rotation with Martinez, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield.

"My goal right now is to try to take the Cy Young away from
Pedro, or Derek or Tim," Schilling said in a radio interview.
Martinez "being here next year was very, very important to me."

He said he spoke Sunday with Martinez, a three-time Cy Young
winner who would like an extension of his contract that has one
year and $17.5 million remaining. Schilling will make at least $12
million under the last year of his contract with Arizona and agreed
to a two-year extension through 2006 worth $25.5 million.

"For me it would be a pleasure to negotiate with Boston,"
Martinez said. "In baseball there are no guarantees, but obviously
we are a better team with Schilling."

Schilling, who was sidelined much of 2003 with injuries and
finished the season 8-9 with a 2.95 ERA, won 23 games in 2002 and
22 games in 2001.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and other club executives
are expected to see Martinez when they visit the Dominican Republic
within the next two weeks to inaugurate the team's baseball

Boston also is pursuing free agent closer Keith Foulke, but
there was no resolution Monday. Oakland is in the running to keep

Meanwhile, Red Sox owner John Henry thanked fans in an e-mail to
reporters Sunday and said they were a big reason Schilling accepted
the trade.

"So I want to thank all of our fans who have made the Red Sox
such a viable economic and spiritual force," he said. "Despite, a
very tough ending to the season, our fans are more resolute than
ever to see this team succeed."