Scot Shields' first appearance since his big meeting with Scioscia and Butcher was in the 8th inning against Toronto on Friday night. It went like this:
Stairs doubled to deep center
Johnson struck out swinging
Overbay struck out looking
Stairs to third on wild pitch
Rios grounded out to shortstop
Not perfect, but far better than the recent exploits of Single-Tee. Baby steps toward respectability. We'll talk about dominance later- nah, let's talk about it now.
I was at the game on Friday. My seats six rows behind GaryMatthews, just off the CF batter's eye. With my high-powered binoculars I am looking at the ball cross the plate from the same perspective as the television camera, just on the other side of the plate. I focused on Jeff Mathis' set up targets and saw Shields' wicked accuracy in meeting that mark - a good sign.
What you wouldn't see on teevee was two scouts in the 5th row of the Diamond Club, in the section almost exactly behind the plate. They shared the seat between them to store their bags, just two older gentlemen in Hawaiian shirts with radar guns that went up with each wind-up from Shields and went down after the smack of the mitt. Each pitch would register on their guns and they would pause to scribble a notation in their tablets.
When Overbay struck out looking, the scouts did something after the pitch but before they scribble on their pads - the looked at each other with a mutual "WOW" expression.
If Shields' visit to the principal's office yielded that WOW, the Angels are in for a good September.