Shields signs four-year extension

Scott Shields will be around much longer after he signed a four-year extension today. The Angels’ press release is copied below.

SCOT SHIELDS AGREES TO A FOUR-YEAR CONTRACT
Reliever signed with Angels through 2010 season

Anaheim, CA- The Angels and Scot Shields Thursday agreed to terms on a
four-year contract through the 2010 season, in an announcement by club Vice
President and General Manager Bill Stoneman. The new agreement replaces the
one-year contract Shields signed in February of this year. With today’s
announcement, the Angels currently have nine players signed through the 2008
season and five players inked through the 2009 campaign: Garret Anderson (’08),
Vladimir Guerrero (’08), Chone Figgins (’08), Robb Quinlan (’08), Kelvim Escobar
(’09), John Lackey (’09), Justin Speier (’10), Scot Shields (’10) and Gary
Matthews Jr. (’11).

“Scot has been crucial to the success of our bullpen,” said Stoneman. “He is
one of the most reliable and resilient relievers in the game and we are thrilled
to keep him in an Angel uniform for a while “.

Shields, 31, completed the 2006 season with 7-7 record, two saves and a 2.87 ERA
(87.2 IP – 28 ER) in 74 games with the Angels. He led the Major Leagues with 31
holds. Among AL leaders, he ranked fourth in games pitched and his 74 games
ranked as the second highest in a single season in club history, behind his own
mark of 78 games set in 2005.

Over the last three seasons (2004-06), Shields has pitched 284.2 innings, most
by any reliever in the Majors. His 291 strikeouts over the same spans ranks
fourth among Major League relievers. He enters the 2007 season with 31 career
relief wins, three shy of tying the Angels’ career record of 34 by Dave LaRoche.

A native of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Shields owns a lifetime record of 35-29 with 14
saves and a 2.81 ERA in 293 games (14 starts).

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Weaver, Colon look strong

Jered Weaver and Bartolo Colon both threw in minor-league games today and both were impressive. Weaver threw 46 pitches while Colon threw 29. Weaver had the better outing of the two giving up just two hits and no runs in three innings. Colon gave up two runs (one earned) in two innings.

I thought (Weaver) was terrific, manager Mike Scioscia said. He threw some good breaking balls, some good offspeed pitches. That’s a great first step. We’ll see how he comes out of it and hopefully five days later he’ll be able to increase it.

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Saunders plays numbers game

Joe Saunders pitched with jersey No. 68 for one of the last times Monday. The left-hander will be wearing No. 51 by the time the regular season starts. There was no significance to his new number other than it was lower than the one he had last year when he made his major-league debut.

Saunders’ previous numbers in college or in the minor leagues were 8, 35 and 40. He couldn’t wear No. 8 because it is too low for a pitcher and Nos. 35 (Casey Kotchman) and 40 (Bartolo Colon) are taken. Maybe the new number will help him to avoid outings like Monday’s when he gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in six innings. Jered Weaver also is wearing a new number this season, shedding No. 56 for 36, the same number his brother Jeff wears.

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You can't handle the truth

Not that this is breaking news, but manager Mike Scioscia is not always forthcoming when asked about the team’s plans. Take the following example from a conversation earlier today. Scioscia was asked if he will finally make it official and announce that Casey Kotchman will be his starting first baseman. Not an unreasonable question. Kotchman certainly has shown he deserves it. It’s not like he was asked how the team plans on pitching to Alex Rodriguez. Here was Scioscia’s answer on the Kotchman inquiry:

“I think that the way Casey is playing this spring, we’re very encouraged. I think that with Shea (Hillenbrand) and Q (Robb Quinlan) and Kendry (Morales), along with what Kotch has done, I feel very confident about the production we’re going to get from first base and the level of play. Right now it’s obvious Kotch is going to be a big part of that. We’re going to keep moving forward.”

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Big guys go deep

Both Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson have crushed deep home runs against the Chicago Cubs, but the Angels still trail 7-4 in the sixth inning. In what was shaping up to be a solid defensive game for the Angels, they just committed two miscues in the sixth to allow a run. Garry Matthews had an impressive running catch into the gap earlier in the game and Maicer Izturis made a tough play in the hole to his left. But Orlando Cabrera threw high on a double play and an Izturis fielding error allowed the Cubs to score.

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Roster thoughts

By Doug Padilla
Staff Writer

MESA, Ariz. Two injuries last week have the Angels scrambling to make contingency plans with a week to go before Opening Day.
Chone Figgins’ two broken fingers on his right hand and Kelvim Escobar’s strained lower back have created new scenarios.
Figgins will start on the disabled list and miss the first month of the season, opening up a roster spot. Tommy Murphy and Reggie Willits were believed to be battling to make the major-league club before Figgins went down. Now they both have the opportunity to start the season in Anaheim.
But since Murphy and Willits are so similar, guys like Nick Gorneault, Curtis Pride, Kendry Morales and even Jeff Mathis are getting a renewed look.
Gorneault would provide right-handed power off the bench and would be able to spell Garret Anderson in left and Vladimir Guerrero in right but would not offer any coverage in center field. Pride offers the same defensively but would provide a left-handed bat off the bench.
Morales and Mathis still seem destined for Triple-A Salt Lake, even with the new roster opening.
(Gorneault) does have a live bat and that could be something we’re going to look at, manager Mike Scioscia said. If you can project what our lineup is, there’s not going to be a lot of maneuvering, especially early on, for guys pinch hitting. It’s probably going to be more of a pinch-running situation or possibly a tweak in the lineup to get (Robb Quinlan) in there.
The desire for pinch runners would seem to suggest that speed supplied by both Murphy and Willits will give then an advantage.
We haven’t ruled out Murphy and Willits on the same club, Scioscia said. I don’t think they are the same player. I know there are similarities but they each bring a different dimension. There could be a role for both of those guys on our club.
Escobar had been scheduled to start in Thursday’s Freeway Series opener at Dodger Stadium, but he will now remain in Arizona that day and pitch in the controlled environment of a camp game. He still is expected to make his season debut on April 3.
He’s feeling much better, Scioscia said. He will throw a bullpen before to make sure he is where he needs to be and he’ll throw in a camp game to get to 90 to 100 pitches and hopefully be out there for seven-plus innings.

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Santana shines

Ervin Santana’s impressive spring continued as he gave up just one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings Sunday in a 3-2 Angels victory over the Chicago Cubs. The outing leaves Santana with a 3.65 ERA. The right-hander threw 91 pitches in his final Arizona start and might actually dial it back a bit when he takes the mound Friday against the Dodgers in his final tuneup. Not even a towering home run from the Cubs’ Cliff Floyd could ruin Santana’s day. My slider is getting better, Santana said. It has more break, a late break, so the hitter thinks fastball.

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Escobar tweaks his back

Kelvim Escobar appeared to injure his back in the third inning of today’s game against the Rockies. He appeared to be uncomfortable after trying to make a play to his left, prompting a visit from manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Mike Butcher. After a brief discussion, Escobar threw a warmup pitch. Another discussion followed and Escobar was removed from the game. He walked to the clubhouse down the right-field line under his own power and did not seem to be in any discomfort. More to come.

It figures that it was a bit prepature to post an entry titled “Positive pitching signs.”

UPDATE: Escobar was lifted with a strain in his left lower back. He was taken out for precautionary reasons and will be re-evaluated Sunday.

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Positive pitching signs

Former pitcher turned Angels broadcaster Mark Gubicza was impressed Saturday as he watched Jered Weaver and Bartolo Colon throw in the bullpen at the same time. Having been on the recovery trail himself, Gubicza said it was a good sign that both pitchers were not stalling for time between pitches. He said that is a sure sign a recovering pitcher is feeling discomfort. And like everybody else, Gubicza was impressed with Colon’s velocity, even before he pitched to hitters moments later.

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Shields (wink, wink) picks starter for opener

After watching Bartolo Colon throw his 50-pitch bullpen session on a lower field, Scot Shields came away impressed. “He’s ready for Opening Day,” Shields joked. “I’ll go tell John (Lackey).”
Lackey, of course, will be the actual starter for the Angels on Opening Day next Monday against the Texas Rangers. Colon’s bullpen session did show that he should be on target for an early May return. Colon had impressive velocity and did not appear to be in any discomfort. He had Nick Gorneault, Kendry Morales and Curtis Pride off balance in the batter’s box a number of times.
Shields, always the joker, wasn’t done was his facetious assessment of Colon’s Opening Day chances. “He might only give us three (innings) but it will be a good three.”

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