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Angels’ Scot Shields returns from WBC

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TEMPE, Ariz.--Setup man Scot Shields was back in camp this morning after his three-week stint with the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic, saying he had ‘a blast’ in a tournament that ended with a semifinal loss to Japan Sunday night.

‘I met a bunch of guys I wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to meet,’ Shields said. ‘I came back a day early, but it was fun.’

Shields appeared in five WBC games, allowing two earned runs and seven hits, striking out two and walking one in 4 1/3 innings. He might have gotten a little more work during a normal spring training, ‘but I feel good, healthy, ready to go,’ he said.

Shields was also on the 2006 WBC team that didn’t reach the finals. There has been much speculation about what the U.S. could do to improve its WBC showing, but Shields doesn’t think any major changes are in order.

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‘There is good baseball all over the world, and they got us,’ Shields said. ‘Japan is a pretty good team. You look at their lineup, the way they play defense and pitch ... and they had three excellent starters.’

Some believe teams such as Japan and South Korea, who played in Monday night’s final, have done well because the WBC is a higher priority in their countries, whereas in the U.S., it’s more important for players in March to get ready for the 162-game season. Shields disagrees.

‘I can only speak for myself, and from what I saw, it was important to us,’ Shields said. ‘This time around, we wanted to prove we were better than we were last time. I think we played pretty good, just not good enough.’

Shields was especially impressed with Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish, a 22-year-old with a 97-mph fastball and nasty slider.

‘I told [Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher] if there’s any chance you can get this guy over here, get him,’ Shields said.

-- Mike DiGiovanna


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