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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.

Reader Comments

Por (Holly Oswald) on September 18, 2007 (Suggest removal)

Wow, the rays have given up with 2 weeks left in the season.  Are they going to refund 2 weeks worth of tickets to the fans?  Or are they letting the owners favorite teams (redsoxs and yankees) have a free pass into the play offs.  It is a hit to the fans who are getting into the rays with a better second half to give up before the season is over. If they says they are going to play the regulars then turn around and shut people down with no injury it just shows that they are not confident in any decisions they are making.  It makes me not happy that I paid premium ticket money when they have given up trying to show the fans they should show up to watch the rays and not the visiting team.

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Por (Wesley D. Weisbrod) on September 18, 2007 (Suggest removal)

This is one of the worst team decisions that I have ever heard of. There is absolutely nothing wrong with his arm and he gets shut down? Is this what we can expect if we are making a run for the playoffs?

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Por (Casey Brown) on September 19, 2007 (Suggest removal)

I actually think it is a gutsy move, especially when you consider what happened to a lot of young stars like
Mulder, Prior, & Wood who pitched a lot of innings early in their careers.
However, it does seem a bit hypocritical considering Maddon’s statements that he wanted his pitchers to learn how to pitch in these late Sept. playoff type atmosphere games, and that Crawford’s suspension should have been at the end of the year for competitive reasons for the teams fighting to get to post-season.

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Por (Steve Liddell) on September 19, 2007 (Suggest removal)

215 innings is plenty for Shields this year.The Rays made the wise choice,no matter how unpopular it is.They need to think about Shield’s long term health. It will also help the Rays in the race for the #1 overall pick next year… either 1B-Justin Smoak or 3B-Pedro Alvarez,who most think will end up at 1B.

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