10/22/08 6:56 PM ET
James Shields pregame interview
Starter believes Phillies are a good match for the Rays
By / MLB.com
What's it like in that clubhouse right now? What's it feel like in there?
JAMES SHIELDS: We're anxious. We're anxious, ready to go. I think I walked in the clubhouse today thinking that everything is going to be different, and it's the World Series, a big stage and it seems to be the same. We're relaxed. Everyone is smiling, having fun and enjoying the moment.
As far as your crash course in learning the Phillies, how much of it is looking at video, how much is listening to the scouts, how much is your own observations watching the games and maybe anything else I haven't mentioned here?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, for me it's -- I'm the type of pitcher that doesn't like to change my approach. I like to make in game adjustments I know that squad is a pretty good hitting squad, they've been known to hit the long ball. But what I see is not only do they hit the long ball, they can run the bases and play small ball, as well.
I consider their team more similar to our team, more than any other team in the playoffs. And I think that's a good match up for us. For me, I'm not looking at too much video trying to overanalyze things. And I'll see how Kaz throws tonight and make my adjustments from there.
At this juncture of the season, how do you keep your arm sound and how do you keep yourself in shape for pitching innings like you've never pitched before?
JAMES SHIELDS: Right now I feel really good. Last year I think I approached 215 innings last year, and my body kind of had some wear and tear at the end of the year. And last off season I think I changed my off season program a little bit to counteract maybe this situation. I didn't think we were going to be in the World Series, but you never know. I thought I was going to be able to pitch 230, 240 innings this year. And my body feels really good right now. I've been doing the same thing every fifth day that I've been doing since day one. I think in this game you've got to be more consistent than anything.
Can you talk about, was there ever a time during the season where you guys had clearly turned the corner, you were winning games and you would show up at home and the place would be empty, how disappointing was that? And also just describe the atmosphere, the difference in the atmosphere now as opposed to mid season?
JAMES SHIELDS: First off, you know, I've been with this organization for eight years, and I've seen every single losing season we've had. As a player it's disappointing to watch that, year in and year out.
I think this year our turning point was when Boston, Anaheim and the Cubbies came into our yard and we swept them all. And that was before the All-Star break, and I think that was the point where we knew that we were a good enough to win, not only win, go to the playoffs and be where we're at today.
As far as the crowd goes, I mean I don't blame them. You watch the team lose for 10 straight years, as a fan, I wouldn't want to come to every single game, either. And I think we're starting to really change the attitude around here in this city. I think we're starting to change the atmosphere in this ballpark. People understand that when you pack house here at the Trop, it gets really, really loud. And for visiting teams to come in here and hear that, I think it's distracting for them to hear them.
Now the second half, I think the crowd started showing up and starting to believe I know there was a game in the middle of the week where we had 10,000 fans. We were disappointed, because we were in first place, and we're beating the Yankees, the Red Sox, the whole American League East, and we're wondering why they're not coming in. And all of a sudden I think it was about mid August they just started showing up, and this town really came together and thrived off of it.
Being with this organization for so long, what did it mean to you guys as fellow pitchers or this team to see Kazmir come in a few years ago and have success? What did that represent and how did it inspire the rest of you guys?
JAMES SHIELDS: I think it represented -- it was time for this organization to change. And not only just bringing in veterans, but bringing in young arms, as myself, being in this organization for as long as it did, bringing guys like Garza and Kaz and Bartlett, and those guys that have been committed this year, I think it's good. This organization is going in the right direction, and when new ownership took over, and we had a new attitude with the uniform change, and all that, I think it's been good this whole entire year. It's good to see -- one of the two guys that I always go back to is Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. Those are two guys that kind of went through the organization with me and seen all this. And to see guys like that on this team right now succeed, especially Rocco, what he's gone through, it's pretty amazing.
Is there anything your outfielders cannot get to?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, I actually -- I was in the clubhouse, I think we were in Fenway, and I asked Don Zimmer, I said, hey, have you ever seen in all your 60 years of baseball, have you ever seen a faster outfield? And he kind of paused for a minute and said, "You know what, I think this is the absolute fastest outfield." And that was at the game when Fernando Perez was in right, B.J. was in center and Crawford was in left. And he said, I think it's the fastest outfield he's ever seen in his professional career. He said the only other team that could probably compare it to was the St. Louis Cardinals, I think when Coleman and those guys were on that team.
So they pretty much catch everything out there.
You guys are a young pitching staff and contractually, you can be around for a while. Is this something you're looking forward to? Is this something you guys talk about, you'd like to stick around and really develop a winning tradition here?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, it's almost kind of -- to me it's kind of scary, I'm the oldest pitcher on the staff; I'm 26 years old. And I don't think a lot of people understand where we've come from and how long we've come along. And it's going to be fun.
I talked to all the starters, and we talked to each other, and we said, man, five or so years from now, and we could still be together really doing this thing. And it's pretty exciting. We have fun with it and the good news is that we all get along and we feed off of each other. We feed off of each others' outings, and we learn from each other.
I think it's going to be a good thing.
In terms of your command, how close were you to being where you wanted to be against Boston?
JAMES SHIELDS: My last game?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, I think my first game I was right where I needed to be. My location was really good. My fastball command was really good. My change up was really good that game and my curveball was pretty good. So I think the first game I was pretty much on my A game, and I think that's what we need to have.
As far as my second game goes, I don't think I was on with my fastball command as I wanted to be. I was just missing the plate. But sometimes that happens. And I thought I did a pretty good job of getting as deep as I could in the game and giving our team a chance to win.
You mentioned that you try to keep every day sort of routine. Tomorrow, when you enter that game, how are you going to handle those emotions? I imagine you will feel something, right?
JAMES SHIELDS: I'm the type of pitcher that I want the ball, you know? I thrive on that. I thrive on getting the ball, and all our starters do. And our whole pitching staff does. You see David Price that last game, he's 23 years old and wants the ball. And I'm going to be anxious. I'm going to be anxious.
This is an exciting time in our lives and it's like a dream come true. So I'm definitely going to not feel the same as a normal, regular season game. But I'm going to be anxious and I'm going to be ready to go.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.