Make us your home page
Instagram

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 steroid testing has helped game improve

HOLDING COURT: Rays manger Joe Maddon chats with his pitchers and catchers during Monday’s workout.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

HOLDING COURT: Rays manger Joe Maddon chats with his pitchers and catchers during Monday’s workout.

PORT CHARLOTTE — There has been plenty said, and there will be more today at Yankees camp in Tampa, about the players who used steroids in the past.

But Rays starter James Shields, speaking for those who never have, said the elimination of performance-enhancing drugs through the testing program is making the game better today.

"The past 3-4 years everyone's been taking it seriously since they've been cracking down," Shields said as a number of Rays were given drugs tests Monday.

"It's good though. I think, personally, baseball had kind of turned around because of that. They're starting to get a handle on everything, and it's a good thing. I think baseball is starting to get back to the way it used to be played.

"Obviously the '90s and stuff were supposedly the steroids era, and everyone's calling it that, but we're starting to get back to old-school baseball now. That's good, and it's more fun that way."

IN THE SWING: CF B.J. Upton, cleared to start swinging at soft tosses in his recovery from Nov. 11 shoulder surgery, said it's going so well he's not so sure he'll need to miss the first week of the regular season as expected.

"I'd say no timetable, because the way it's feeling there's no telling," he said.

CHILL WILL: INF Willy Aybar worked out with the group of early reporting position players, pleased with his new contract, two years plus a 2011 option, that will be finalized as soon as the Rays get final medical test results back. "It's good for me, and the team is giving me a good chance," Aybar said. "I like the team, I like my teammates, I like the manager — everybody. Good people."

Aybar is in good shape, having spent the winter in the Domincian Republic playing first and third base for Licey, which advanced to the Caribbean Series.

PITCHING IN: After playing a month longer than usual last year and having spring training open a week earlier than normal, the Rays have a plan to manage their pitchers by limiting their early spring workload.

Essentially, they will have two squads, which is why they invited some extra arms — 31 overall —to camp.

"We'll set them up in two groups," manager Joe Maddon said. "One group will pitch more in the beginning and the other group will pitch less. Obviously the guys that have been with us will pitch less. We looked at the early start of camp and thought it would be unwise to push any of those regular guys and start their clock at that particular juncture. The way we're going to set it up, guys are going to get plenty of work, we're just choosing to do it this way. And I'd be surprised if other people did not choose to do it the same way."

MISCELLANY: LHP Scott Kazmir is still awaiting a ruling from the MLB-union panel on the Rays' petition to block him from pitching in the World Baseball Classic. … Pat Burrell took down the nameplate on the adjacent locker for his 125-pound English bulldog, saying Elvis was being shipped from Arizona — by wemovepets.com — but he wasn't sure how much he'd be in the building. … Minor-league INF Chris Nowak reported, leaving just seven of the 23 position players who haven't checked in early: Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Morgan Ensberg, Ray Olmedo, Jon Weber and Akinori Iwamura, who is staying in Japan for the Classic. … Maddon and executive VP Andrew Friedman began their schedule of 10-minute individual meetings with all pitchers and catchers, then will do the same with the position players.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields says steroid testing has helped game improve 02/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 7:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]