ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — More than a decade after last throwing a pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays, right-hander James Shields returned to Tropicana Field to symbolically retire from a club he helped transform from perennial loser to playoff contender.
Shields, who spent parts of seven seasons with the Rays before being traded to the Kansas City Royals in December 2012, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Thursday’s season opener against the Detroit Tigers.
The 41-year-old was a draft pick of the Devil Rays in 2000 and led a pitching staff that was key to the team’s surprising run to the World Series in 2008 – the year the franchise dropped the word “Devil” from their nickname and made the playoffs for the first time.
Shields still ranks as Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in starts (217), wins (87) and losses (73). He played parts of 13 seasons overall with the Rays, Royals, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox from 2006-2018, going 145-139 with a 4.01 ERA.
Shields’ return comes as the Rays, who wore throwback Devil Rays jerseys on Opening Day, launch a celebration of their 25th anniversary.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.