Scot Shields, Kevin Jepsen look strong in simulated-game workouts
Relievers Scot Shields and Kevin Jepsen took significant steps toward returning to game action Tuesday morning, each throwing a 20-pitch simulated inning and reporting no ill effects from their 2009 injuries.
For Shields, the veteran setup man who missed most of 2009 after undergoing left-knee surgery in June, it was the first time he had thrown to hitters since last May.
"Everything came out good, and the knee felt good," Shields said. "I was excited. It's still going against your own team, but it was nice to be out there in a competitive game."
Did Shields worry about the knee while he was out there?
"I think I was too excited to be worried," he said. "That overrules everything."
The highlight of the outing for Shields was when he struck out the last batter after falling behind the count, 3-and-0.
"My control was pretty good," Shields said. "I'm glad I was able to come back and get him on three good pitches."
Jepsen, who experienced shoulder tendinitis last September while throwing a career-high 54 2/3 innings as a rookie, showed a very firm fastball and was surprised when Manager Mike Scioscia told him to stop before he had retired his last batter.
The rookie held both arms to his side, but don't worry, he wasn't pulling a John Lackey and saying to Scioscia, "This is my simulated game!"
"It just didn't feel like 20 pitches," Jepsen said. "I wanted to finish that last at-bat. I felt great. I'm ready to go. There is no weakness in the shoulder at all."
The next step for both relievers is either one more simulated-game workout or pitching in an exhibition game.
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.
Photo: Scot Shields. Credit: Jonathan Moore / Getty Images