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Interest ramps up in Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Angels acquiring starter Zack Greinke from the Brewers on Friday removes one prominent team from the list of those rumored to be interested in Rays right-hander James Shields.

But it could also stoke the market for the others.

The Braves, Dodgers, Indians and Rangers are the teams most interested in Shields, who, along with Miami's Josh Johnson, are two of the most prominent starters being talked about in advance of Tuesday's deadline for nonwaiver deals.

Rays manager Joe Maddon maintained Friday even after the Greinke deal that he does not believe Shields will be dealt.

"You would think that might turn more of the focus on our guy, there's no question. I can't deny that," Maddon said before Friday's game. "But at the end of the day, I still believe Shieldsy is going to be a Ray after the trade deadline is over.

"All this conjecture does occur, and there's reasons why they're pointing at James. But I still believe in my heart of hearts that it's not going to happen, and it's going to move on and we're going to be normal and he's going to pitch like he can over the last two months of the season."

Shields, who insists he is not concerned with and hasn't been distracted by the speculation, said he didn't consider the Greinke deal to have much impact on him.

"To be honest with you, I have no clue what goes on in that whole situation," he said. "It doesn't affect me mentally. It doesn't affect me being part of my team. It doesn't affect me as far as what I do in our clubhouse as far as trying to win games for us, and that's all I really care about. I don't really care about anything else."

The Angels got Greinke in exchange for three young players — middle infielder Jean Segura, who was their top prospect, and right-handers John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. Greinke is a free agent after this season, which means the Angels could be paying a steep price, including the remainder of his $13.5 million salary this year, for 12 to 13 starts.

"We're excited," Angels general manager Jerry DiPoto said after the deal was announced Friday. "Zack Greinke has a Cy Young Award on his mantle. He's an All-Star. He's a quality major-league pitcher at a time when it's difficult to find access to them."

The Rays will face Greinke in his Angels debut on Sunday, which will be his regular day.

Though the Rays and Angels are in different divisions, they may end up competing for one of the two American League wild-card spots, so Greinke's addition to a rotation that includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Dan Haren could have a significant impact on them.

"He's very good and obviously on the surface it would appear that way," Maddon said. "But I like our guys, too. I like our pitchers. It's about us playing better as we move it forward. Regardless of what the Angels may acquire, what the Yankees may acquire, the Red Sox, it's just about having our young starters pitch better right now and maintaining the health of our bullpen."

Interest ramps up in Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields

07/27/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 28, 2012 2:29am]
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