The Angels are back at full strength. Scot Shields has returned to his familiar spot in the bullpen, having returned from the World Baseball Classic to enrich teammates with inside stories about the event.
“The experience was great,” Shields said. “I just wish we could have played one more game.”
Team USA was ousted in the semifinals at Dodger Stadium on Sunday by Japan, which went on to successfully defend its title from the 2006 inaugural event with a thrilling victory over Korea on Monday night.
“Japan’s got a pretty good team,” Shields said, agreeing that its aggressive, old-school style is similar to that of the Angels. “They’ve got good hitters all through their lineup, and three starting pitchers who are excellent. They’ve got speed, they get guys over, they play defense.
“I’m disappointed in how it ended, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Getting to know a whole new team, just about was great. The only guys back from the first one were Chipper [Jones] before he had to leave, [Derek] Jeter and Jake [Peavy].”
The highlight was the dramatic, come-from-behind, 6-5 triumph over Puerto Rico in the second round in Miami that clinched a semifinal berth for Team USA.
“That was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in,” said Shields, who produced four outs of perfect relief to keep Puerto Rico at bay. “The guys had been together for like a week and a half and were celebrating like we knew each other all year.
“That showed how important it was for us to win.”
Shields has heard and read the criticism of Team USA, that it didn’t care as much about the event as other countries, notably the two finalists.
“We all take pride in having those letters across our chest,” he said. “We really wanted to win. Japan just beat us, that’s all.”
Shields appeared in five of the team’s eight games, yielding two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings, striking out two men.
“I got my work in,” Shields said. “I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go.”