Shields moves into eye of trade deadline hurricane with Greinke traded

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- They were teasing James Shields before Friday night's game here about pulling an Ichiro.

Would a weekend trade force him to walk down the hall and into the other clubhouse in the same stadium, as Ichiro Suzuki did when the Mariners shipped him to the Yankees earlier this week?

Shields got the answer -- no -- a couple of hours before the series opener here when the Angels landed starter Zack Greinke in a blockbuster trade with the Brewers.

But whether Shields remains in Tampa Bay or is dealt by Tuesday's non-waivers trade deadline remains a guessing game. For one thing, the Rays were only three games out in the AL wild-card chase entering Friday night's games.

With Greinke off the board, Shields and the Marlins' Josh Johnson are the two most attractive starters available. The Rangers and the Dodgers, among others, remain interested in Shields, according to CBSSports.com sources.

"All I can say is, we go through this every single year," Shields said. "You hear your name pop up. It's interesting to us as players. But we just go with the flow.

"Whatever happens, happens."

Shields, 30, is 8-7 with a 4.52 ERA in 21 starts for the Rays this season but has not been good lately. He has produced a 6.15 ERA over his past seven starts, and he's 2-4 with a 5.18 ERA over his past 10 starts.

The Orioles pounced on him in a five-run fifth inning in his most recent start, Wednesday. During that inning, Shields had six different hitters in an 0 and 2 count but could not finish off enough of them to escape the inning without significant damage.

"I feel my game is starting to get better even though my numbers haven't showed it," Shields said.

Which part of his game in particular?

"Fastball location, off-speed location," he said. "[Wednesday] I walked a couple of more people than I wanted to, but I thought a couple of those pitches" were close enough to be called strikes. Shields walked five in six innings.

Though he has no trade veto powers, his preference, by far, is to remain in Tampa Bay, he said.

"This is my home," he said. "It's been my home for 12 years. I love it here."

His current struggles, he said, have not been a result of being distracted from trade rumors. During his eight years in the majors, he's learned a few things.

"Seeing other guys talked about, teammates, friends," he said. "Seeing people released early in the morning, or late at night and not even getting a chance to say goodbye."

Four long days remain during which Shields will learn whether it's his turn to say goodbye. He could wind up headed to the Rangers, the Dodgers or even points beyond.

While he wonders, he can at least laugh.

"David Price is joking every day about it," Shields said. "He says he's going to take my locker."

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