Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields says injury-plagued Boston Red Sox remind him of 2008 Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays and Red Sox may not have much in common in terms of payrolls, stadiums and tradition.

But as Tampa Bay continues to praise Boston for how it has hung in the wild-card race — trailing the Rays by just 51/2 games — despite being ravaged by injuries, RHP James Shields made an interesting comparison.

Shields said the Red Sox are a little like the Rays' pennant-winning club of two seasons ago.

"They're kind of reminding me of how we won in 2008," Shields said. "We had a lot of injuries. I think every one of our position players at some point was injured that year. They're going through adversity, and the guys they brought up are stepping up and doing a good job. We definitely can't take them lightly."

The Red Sox are playing without former AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, 1B Kevin Youkilis and CF Jacoby Ellsbury. They've also dealt with injuries to RHP Josh Beckett and C Victor Martinez, among others. But they've had backups step up, including CFs Darnell McDonald and Ryan Kalish, who have made huge defensive plays the past two games.

Similarly, in 2008, the Rays made their spectacular and surprising run even with several regulars, including 3B Evan Longoria, 1B Carlos Peña, LF Carl Crawford and SS Jason Bartlett, spending time on the disabled list (as did then-closer Troy Percival).

When Shields was asked about drawing a parallel between this year's Red Sox and a Tampa Bay team that reached the World Series, he smiled.

"Hopefully, not that (far)," Shields said. "But they're hanging in there. They're doing what they need to do to win ball games. They've got a great pitching staff; their bullpen is pretty solid. So we're in for a battle."

IN A GROOVE: Shields enters tonight's start with some confidence, having won his past two outings and gone 5-2 in his past seven.

"I think this is the best I've felt all year long," Shields said. "If I can continue to make progress and keep working and give my team a chance to win, that's always good."

MAKING PROGRESS: RHP Jeff Niemann said he felt good after a "pretty heavy" bullpen session Saturday, saying he tried to iron some things out from his last start, when he gave up a career-high 10 runs. Niemann, who struggled with command in his first start since coming off the DL, said he's physically fine; it was more an issue of mechanics or "feel."

"Everything's fine," Niemann said. "I think the last time it was just a bad day and that happens. I just went out there and addressed the issues and (hope to) get back out there and try again."

FOR STARTERS: RHP Grant Balfour (intercostal strain) had a rough start for Class A Charlotte on Saturday, not even getting out of the first inning. Balfour gave up three runs on three walks and two hits, striking out two for both his outs. … Recently acquired OF Brad Hawpe batted three times as the DH for Charlotte and went 0-for-2 with a walk.

REMATCH TIME: DH Dan Johnson said he enjoyed getting another chance against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on Friday night, his first plate appearance against him since hitting the home run in Boston on Sept. 9, 2008. Johnson would have loved to have hit a tying two-run homer, but he settled for a walk.

"It was fun," Johnson said. "He wanted to (strike) me out just as bad as I wanted to get a hit. We found common ground in a walk."

MISCELLANY: Crawford returned to the lineup Saturday after missing a game due to a stomach virus.

MINOR MATTERS: OF Leslie Anderson entered Saturday's game having collected multiple hits in 11 of his 20 games with Triple-A Durham and was batting .354. … LHP Jake McGee continued his stellar relief work for the Bulls, tossing two hitless innings Friday, and has given up no runs in 122/3 innings there.

Joe Smith can be reached at

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields says injury-plagued Boston Red Sox remind him of 2008 Rays 08/28/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 29, 2010 6:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has



    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  4. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.