Veteran reliever Scot Shields is still an Angel ... for now
Angels reliever Scot Shields emerged from a closed-door meeting with Manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher on Monday afternoon and ... returned to his locker and finished getting dressed for pregame stretch.
It almost seemed like an upset.
The veteran right-hander's earned-run average jumped to 6.05 after he gave up three runs, two hits and three walks in 1-1/3 innings of the Angels' 9-4 loss in Detroit on Sunday, and with relievers Jason Bulger and Brian Stokes close to being activated off the disabled list, Shields' days in Anaheim appear numbered.
Once one of baseball's most durable and dependable relievers -- Sports Illustrated selected him setup man of the decade -- Shields, 35, has been unable to regain his form after sitting out most of 2009 because of surgery on his left knee. He is 0-3 in 36 games, with 31 walks and 34 strikeouts in 38-2/3 innings, and has been relegated to the back of the bullpen.
The last remaining link to the Angels' 2002 World Series championship team, Shields, in the final year of a four-year, $18-million deal, could be designated for assignment soon. If he finishes out the season in Anaheim, the Angels are not likely to re-sign him for 2011.
"He takes things hard, and he's frustrated with where his level of contribution and achievement are," Scioscia said of Shields. "We're trying to get him back to basics. Every year, he has to adjust his release point and mechanics. He's fought through a lot this year, but the arm speed and stuff are there. He needs to marry that with command."
Shields has shown glimpses of his old self. He gave up one earned run in 11 innings of eight appearances from June 15 to July 20, lowering his ERA from 6.86 to 4.70, and he threw two hitless innings in two games in Baltimore before his meltdown in Detroit, which turned a 6-4 deficit into a 9-4 deficit.
"It's frustrating because I'll feel like I'm getting back to the pitcher I know I can be for a couple of outings, and then I'll take a step or two back, like I did Sunday," Shields said. "A lot of it is not being there and helping the team, whether I'm in the role I'm in now or my old role. It was a two-run game when I came in [Sunday]. There have been four, five, six games where if I do my job, we have a chance to win."