Curt Schilling joins ESPN 'Sunday'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Curt Schilling knows criticism is coming. He expects it.

The former All-Star pitcher is replacing Orel Hershiser on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast crew next season as part of a multiyear contract extension, giving him a wider audience for his opinions.

"No matter how you phrase it, if you don't compliment a player, that player's team, that player's fans think you hate him," Schilling said Sunday. "I can't tell you how many times I've seen people react with, 'You hate so-and-so. You hate so-and-so.' And it's just amazing how -- it's a good thing. The passion is great. It's amazing how much people read into the things that we say on a nightly basis."

In the 25th season of "Sunday Night Baseball," Schilling will join former Philadelphia teammate John Kruk, play-by-play man Dan Shulman and reporter Buster Olney. Hershiser is expected to join the Los Angeles Dodgers' new regional sports network, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

"Orel is a true pro who made a positive impact on our baseball coverage," ESPN said in a statement released Monday. "We wish him nothing but the best."

Schilling has been a studio analyst for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" since 2010 and has been in the booth for a few games. Schilling will continue to contribute to "Baseball Tonight."

"Curt is one of the most unique announcers we have ever had on baseball, or any other sport for that matter," said Jed Drake, ESPN executive producer and senior vice president, production. "He speaks his mind, and when he does, it is almost always fascinating, insightful and quite often provocative. People will watch 'Sunday Night Baseball' because of what Curt might say -- that's a rare gift. And did I mention that he was a ferocious competitor who has three World Series rings? Enough said."

A six-time All-Star, Schilling said he plans to bring a pitcher's perspective to the telecasts.

"When I think about the 75 to 100 decisions that went into every single pitch I threw, you can't break that down," he said. "But there's ways to explain, there's ways to help people watch that I think I can help Dan and Kruky bring to the table."

And in the first season of expanded replay for umpires' decisions, Schilling expects to have a lot to discuss.

"I'm sure I'm going to gripe and complain at some point," he said. "Probably often."

Rhode Island's Economic Development Corp. has sued Schilling, former officials of his bankrupt video game company 38 Studios and some of its own former employees. The EDC board in 2010 approved a $75 million loan guarantee for the company to lure it to Providence from Massachusetts.

"People are going to believe and know and see what they want to believe and know and see," Schilling said. "Unfortunately, the whole story isn't out yet, and when that does happen, hopefully people will understand."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.