Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Shields shut down for season
Posted Sep 18, 2007 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Sep 18, 2007 at 08:30 PM
ANAHEIM—A day before what was supposed to be his second-to-last start this season, James Shields was informed he won’t be pitching again in 2007. Just-recalled J.P. Howell will start tomorrow against the Angels and probably get two more starts to close the year.
Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman decided last night to shut Shields down for the year in an effort to preserve the long-term health of his arm. Shields has pitched 215 innings this season after throwing a career-high 186 innings between Durham and Tampa Bay last year.
“We decided to just shut him down,” said Maddon. “There’s nothing wrong with him; we’re just going purely based off innings pitched and the number of pitches that he’s thrown this year. We just wanted to stop it right now.”
Shields was taken aback by the decision—especially being told the day before the Southern California native was scheduled to start before family and friends.
“I was pretty shocked,” he said. “I’m not really too happy with the full decision, but it is what it is and there’s nothing I can really do about it.”
The Rays and others around the game have done extensive research on pitchers who have suffered arm injuries and found a correlation with large year-to-year increases in innings pitched. The pitch counts and innings totals of the Rays’ young aces, Shields and Scott Kazmir, have been under scrutiny all season, and the Rays decided enough was enough with Shields. Kazmir will make his final two starts of the year as scheduled, but will be limited to 100 pitches in both.
Shields, who finishes with a 12-8 record and 3.85 ERA in his first full season in the majors, won’t get that chance.
“I’m the type of guy who wants to go out and take the ball every fifth day,” he said. “I don’t turn down starts. Unless I can’t walk to the park, I’m not turning down a start. That’s just the way I am. I’m a workhorse and I like to eat innings up, I like to pitch, and I want to be that guy that this team can count on every fifth day. It’s kind of disappointing that I can’t finish the season out, but it is what it is.”
The Rays also hope to have an extra outfielder—most likely either Justin Ruggiano or Jason Pridie—here for the series finale as insurance with Carl Crawford still unavailable.