Angels: Scot Shields to make exhibition debut Friday; Kevin Jepsen a step behind
Scot Shields has pitched in 448 major league games, 17 of them in the playoffs and one in the World Series, but the veteran right-hander admitted he will probably be a little nervous Friday when he pitches in an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox, his first game action since May 26, 2009.
"I was pumped up the other day," Shields said of the 20 pitches he threw in a simulated game against Angels minor leaguers on Wednesday. "So I don't know how I'm going to feel Friday."
Shields will face the same White Sox team Friday that he pitched against in his final game of 2009, when he covered first base on a Jermaine Dye grounder and barely made it back to the dugout, so intense was the pain in his left knee.
"I got to the top step of the dugout and told [pitching coach Mike Butcher] I'm done," Shields said. "Not like, I can't go out there for the next inning. I mean, I'm done. It got to the point where I couldn't do it anymore."
Shields underwent surgery on June 16 to repair the patella tendon in his left knee and missed the rest of the season. After rehabilitating all winter, he hopes to take the first significant step toward a 2010 return with Friday's inning against the White Sox.
Kevin Jepsen, who experienced tendinitis in his throwing shoulder last September and has joined Shields and fellow reliever Fernando Rodney on the slow track this spring, also threw a 20-pitch simulated inning on Wednesday.
But the right-hander, who emerged as the team's setup man in the second half last season, will probably need one more simulated-game workout before he pitches in an exhibition game.
"I feel great, but I threw 22 pitches to three batters," Jepsen said. "I was working on all my pitches --fastballs, two-seamers, curves -- and it wasn't as game-like as I would normally be. Usually, I would throw more fastballs. The next simulated game will be less working on stuff and more going after hitters."
Rodney, who has been slowed this spring by sore shins, threw again in the bullpen Thursday and will probably begin throwing under simulated-game conditions this weekend.
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Tempe, Ariz.
Photo: Scott Shields delivers during a game against Seattle in 2008. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times