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Shields Cashes In

Posted: January 24, 2008 11:28 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2008 2:02 a.m.
 
It's been a frequent saying for Hart High graduate and Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields over the past couple of years.

"Sometimes hard work pays off."
He repeated it Wednesday after it really paid off.
The Rays announced at a 2 p.m. Eastern time press conference Wednesday that they had inked Shields to a guaranteed four-year deal with club options that could take it to seven years.
Shields is guaranteed $11.25 million. If the three options are picked up, he will earn $38 million. Performance bonuses could take the deal to $44 million.
On his way back to his home in Las Vegas Wednesday, the 2000 Hart graduate and 1999 CIF-Southern Section Division II champion described his day.
"It's been a whirlwind. It's been crazy," Shields said. "First I woke up and went and threw at the Minor League complex and stayed there until noon. Then had a press conference at the Trop (Tropicana Field). It's amazing man. It's amazing."
Shields had a breakthrough season in 2007.
He went 12-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 215 innings. He also struck out 184 batters while walking just 36.
More importantly, the right-hander developed a reputation as a gamer who could be trusted to throw deep into games. His best pitch - a changeup - also became regarded as one of the best in baseball.
Shields gained high praise from baseball people throughout the season, including an apology from Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland for excluding him from the American League All-Star team.
The 26-year-old pitcher said it was his agent, Page Odle, who initiated contract talks with the organization.
"I was talking to my agent and he asked, 'What do you think about playing for the Rays for a long time?'" Shields recalled. "(I answered) 'I'd love to. It would be great.' '(He asked) What do you think about me bringing it up to the organization?' We called them and they were really interested."
The Rays have been busy this offseason in hopes of improving a squad that finished in last place for the third straight year in the American League East.
Tampa Bay traded talented but troubled outfielders Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes, but it added Matt Garza, a right-handed pitcher with a lot of upside, veteran closer Troy Percival and power-hitting outfielder Cliff Floyd.
The organization also made a commitment to its future stars by signing slugging first baseman Carlos Peña to a three-year deal and avoiding arbitration with lefty starter Scott Kazmir by giving him a one-year contract.
The offseason even included a name change as the organization dropped the Devil in Devil Rays, which led to color and uniform modifications, too.
"The pieces are there. I'm so excited to be a part of this," Shields said. "It's been a dream. It's funny, I tell people it's really humbling knowing I'm here right now."
The Rays didn't have to do the deal with Shields because he only has one full season of Major League experience.
He wasn't eligible for salary arbitration until 2010 and free agency until 2013.
"It's so much pressure off my back," Shields said of the contract. "This game's a grind. ... (Now) it's like being in little league again."
This is the second major baseball contract in the family this offseason.
Shields' cousin Aaron Rowand inked a five-year deal for $60 million with the San Francisco Giants Dec. 12.


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