HOUSTON — RHP James Shields has pitched himself into position to make the American League All-Star team. But the Rays' plans will leave him in a position where he won't be able to pitch in the July 12 game.
Manager Joe Maddon confirmed that Shields is scheduled to start the Rays' final game before the break, July 10 at Yankee Stadium. Under MLB rules, pitchers who work that day can be named to the team but are ineligible to pitch and are replaced on the active roster.
"It appears to be his day as of right now," Maddon said. "The Rays are much more important. … We have set this thing up for a while."
Shields said he was okay with the plan, which also has him in line to face the Red Sox and Yankees coming out of the break. "I'd rather win a bunch of ballgames for this team," he said. "Obviously I'd love to pitch in the All-Star Game if I make it, but it is what it is. I'm not going to cry over it. It would definitely be an honor just to be able to make the team."
The Tigers have said they have a similar schedule for their ace, Justin Verlander.
The Rays have some wiggle room. Shields (8-4, 2.29) is scheduled to get an extra day's rest before the July 10 game, following starts Wednesday at home and July 4 at Minnesota. If the Rays kept him on a straight five-day schedule, he would start July 9 in New York and could pitch in Phoenix.
HOME BOY: RHP Jeff Niemann, a Houston native, has the pressure today of pitching at home. He also has the burden of keeping the Rays' pitchers from going hitless through interleague play. They are 0-for-19 with 14 strikeouts. "I'll go up there and take hacks, that's one thing I can guarantee,'' he said. "I can't guarantee any contact, though.''
HELPING HAND: RHP Adam Russell is trying to draw attention to a cause connected to his sister, who has breast cancer. The Food and Drug Administration is considering withdrawing approval of a medicine she used in chemotherapy, Avastin.
Russell opened a Twitter account (@AdamRussell36) to encourage people to sign an online petition, which can be accessed at fameds.org, to convince government officials to keep the drug available and covered by insurance. His sister, Tracy Galvin, is headed to Washington, D.C., this week to participate in a protest.
"I'm using any outlet I can to try and help her because I know it's worked for her, and I know it's worked for many women," Russell said.
MISCELLANY: With a second-inning single, Johnny Damon moved past Jimmie Foxx to take over 72nd place on the all-time hits list at 2,647. … Second-round draft pick RHP Lenny Linsky signed, putting eight of the Rays' top 12 picks under contract. … Friday's game was the first in modern MLB history in which three pitchers with the same last name appeared for one team: Wandy, Fernando and Aneury Rodriguez. … Short-season Class A Hudson Valley RHP Jason McEachern worked 62/3 no-hit innings Friday before being removed due to a pitch count at 74.
Waechter puts happy face on retirement
HOUSTON — Doug Waechter would rather have been pitching somewhere Saturday night. But after a third arm surgery, and a lack of sincere interest from any major-league organization, he instead was at Ferg's Sports Bar across from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg for an unofficial retirement party.
Waechter, 30, got to pitch parts of four seasons for his hometown Devil Rays, then parts of two others for the Marlins and Royals, with some time in the minors. But when it looked like the best the St. Petersburg native could do this year was an independent league, he decided it was time to stay home with his wife and help raise their two young children.
"I know how lucky I am," Waechter said by phone. "I got to do a lot of things a lot of people don't get the opportunity to do. It was a great ride, and I had a blast doing it."
Waechter said he plans to join a brother selling orthopedic devices ("I've spent enough time in operating rooms," he joked) and may do TV work with Bright House Sports Network. He said he has not filed official retirement papers.
"The arm is held together now with duct tape," he said. "Or at least that's what the scouts are saying."
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer