Scot Shields was perhaps the elite setup man of the aughts (we really need a better name for 2000-2009), posting a 2.98 ERA from 2002-2008 while averaging around 90 innings per season, but ended the decade on a low note with an injury wrecked 2009 campaign and is now unlikely to be ready for spring training.
Shields had knee surgery about eight months ago, but has not been cleared to throw off a mound yet and Angels pitchers report to camp next Wednesday. He’s still hoping to be ready for Opening Day, but that seems unlikely given that Shields is 35, logged just 18 innings last season before being shut down, and has yet to get back on a mound eight months later.
I don’t know how quickly I’ll get on a mound. We’ll probably have to take it slow. We’ve got a whole month and a half or two months to get ready. I know my body. It’s close to being 100 percent, and we’ve still got two months.
Shields may still believe that he can be ready for Opening Day, but the Angels’ lack of confidence in him returning to form was shown by overpaying Fernando Rodney with a two-year, $11 million deal despite already having Kevin Jepsen around as a potential setup man for Brian Fuentes. Even if he’s healthy, Shields figures to begin the season working middle relief.
Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.
It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.
Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.
The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.
Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.