Scot Shields' Angels career is winding down, but he hopes to pitch again this season
Scot Shields can see the writing on the wall. That doesn’t mean the veteran right-hander has to acknowledge it just yet.
The last remaining link to the Angels’ 2002 World Series championship team and the setup man of the decade, as dubbed by Sports Illustrated, Shields has been relegated to a nonessential relief role this season after missing most of 2009 because of left knee surgery.
Shields, 35, rebounded from an awful two-month start, sprinkling in a few strong outings to bring his earned-run average down from 6.86 on June 10 to 5.28 in 43 games on the year. But with his four-year, $18-million contract expiring and youngsters such as Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, Francisco Rodriguez and Michael Kohn shooting past him on the depth chart, the chances of Shields' returning in 2011 are less than remote.
“It’s all to be determined,” Shields said, when asked about a possible return to the Angels. “I understand the business side of it. You look at our bullpen now, and there are a lot of young guys who can really throw the ball. The future is definitely bright here.”
That future probably won’t include Shields, who may have thrown his last pitch as an Angel on Tuesday night, when he left the game against the Indians because of elbow tightness. Shields, never one to acknowledge the severity of any injury, is confident he will pitch again this season.
“Everything is fine — nothing is wrong at all,” Shields said. “It’s just something I feel from time to time. I’ll be ready to pitch tonight if they need me.”
Shields, who lives in Michigan during the off-season, isn’t sure if he’ll be pitching anywhere in 2011. His daughters are now 7 and 5, and family will be a factor on whether he attempts to extend his career beyond 2010.
“I still feel like I can perform at a high level,” Shields said. “The first few months this season were rough. The last few months, I’ve thrown the ball better.”
-- Mike DiGiovanna