Originally created 07/14/97

Braves have eye on Phils' Schilling



ATLANTA - A team that already has baseball's best starting pitching is trying to strengthen its rotation.

Sources indicate the Braves are making a strong bid for Phillies right-hander Curt Schilling, who has a limited no-trade clause in his contract, but would agree to be traded to Atlanta.

Schilling, who will be in town tonight when the Phillies open a two-game series against the Braves, could switch clubhouses while he's here if the two teams can agree on a package of prospects.

Phillies general manager Lee Thomas is said to want a pair of pitching prospects in return for Schilling, who is 10-8 with a 3.50 ERA for baseball's worst team. The Braves are loaded with young pitching prospects and sources indicate they would be willing to include two in a deal for the right-hander.

"We need to and we hopefully will make some sort of deal that will help us, not just a trade for the sake of making a trade," Thomas said last week.

There are several pitchers at Class A Macon that would be attractive to the Phillies. The Braves might be willing to part with one or two of the following pitchers: Right-hander Rob Bell (9-5, 3.46 ERA), left-hander Bruce Chen (8-4, 3.69 ERA), right-hander Jason Marquis (11-4, 3.42 ERA) or left-hander Odalis Perez (3-4, 1.22 ERA). Or, the Phillies may attempt to pry right-hander David Cortes away from the Braves. Cortes was 2-0 with a 0.58 ERA at Macon before being promoted to Class A Durham, where he is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA.

"Lee Thomas has told people I'll call whoever called," manager Bobby Cox said. "I don't think there's anything more than that. (Schilling) would make a lot of difference to a lot of teams. I think everybody is looking (for pitching)."

There's two reasons why the Braves are interested in Schilling. First, he would enhance a solid rotation, then he could move to the bullpen for the postseason and be a dominant setup man for closer Mark Wohlers. Second, with Schilling, the Braves would have some insurance if they are unable to sign free agent Greg Maddux this winter. Or, they could decide not to pursue Maddux if they acquire Schilling.