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.
Athletics southpaw Sean Manaea delivered his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox in a decisive 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Any thought of a perfect game was banished in the first at-bat, when Mookie Betts drew a leadoff six-pitch walk to open the first inning. From there, Manaea was nearly flawless, holding the Sox to four total baserunners and striking out 10 of 30 batters faced — a career record.
Manaea was gifted a three-run lead thanks to RBI doubles from Jed Lowrie and Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien‘s solo shot off of Chris Sale in the fifth inning. While the Red Sox managed to draw two walks off of Manaea, they didn’t come anywhere close to plating a run. Andrew Benintendi tried to break up the no-no in the sixth inning with an infield hit down the first base line, but strayed out of bounds and later saw his hit reversed on a call of batter interference.
Entering the ninth inning, the 26-year-old lefty was sitting at just 95 pitches through eight frames of no-hit ball. He quickly deposed Blake Swihart and Mookie Betts with a groundout and fly out, then walked Benintendi on seven pitches. Any threat the Red Sox might have posed was soon eliminated, however, as Hanley Ramirez ground into a force out to complete the no-hitter.
Manaea is the first A’s pitcher to toss a no-no since Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Rays eight years ago. The last time the Red Sox were on the losing end of a no-hitter was also against an AL West rival, when the Mariners’ Chris Bosio clinched a 2-0 no-no on April 22, 1993. Manaea’s feat is even more outstanding given how dominant the Red Sox have looked this season: prior to Saturday’s defeat, they boasted a 17-2 record and had yet to be shut out during the regular season.