I don't blame Shields for wanting to win

Shortstop Barmes, Amarista picked up pace in June

I don't blame Shields for wanting to win

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

James Shields has been upset recently.

And I have no problem with that.

This is not to say that I necessarily agree with Shields when he has reacted to coming out of a game or asked to bunt.

But I like the fact that competition burns inside Shields. And at times, that competitive spirit overflows. And I have no problem with
that.

In fact, I like the fact that James Shields gets upset. I like the attitude.

I've talked to James Shields. He seems like a nice guy. Good sense of humor. People speak highly of him.

But when he is at work, meaning when he is playing, James Shields is a different breed of cat. He is extremely competitive . . . and that goes
with the bat as well as the arm. The Padres wouldn't have had their two-run rally the last time he pitched were it not for the two-out, Shields single to get it started.

He didn't like that he came out of that game five days ago while holding a 2-1 lead after seven innings and only 86 pitches. Beyond that, he didn't like the fact the Padres lost that game.

His exact words: "We have to win. We have to win that game. This game was ours. We have to do a better job of bearing down and getting that win right there."

And he wanted to finish the job he started. That just didn't start here. That's been his mantra ever since he came into his own. Every fifth day, James Shields goes until he physically can't continue. Only then does he turn it over to someone else.

He's not accustomed to the Padres practice of having their late-game relievers start innings from the top. He's pitched most of his career going until he needs help.

I don't fault James Shields for being angry at the outcome of Sunday's game.

Shields makes his first start for Pat Murphy Friday night at Arizona.

Speaking of Shields, he recorded his 100th strikeout of the season last Sunday. Shields reached the 100-strikeout plateau in 82 2/3 innings, the quickest a Padres starter has reached 100 strikeouts in Padres history. The previous record was 90 innings shared by LHP Cory Luebke in 2011 and RHP Sterling Hitchcock in 1999. Closer Trevor Hoffman is the only pitcher in Padres history to reach 100 strikeouts faster than Shields and the reliever did it twice - in 71 2/3 innings in 1997 and 80 2/3 innings in 1996.

FROM THE SCORECARD:

-- Padres shortstops Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes are hitting a combined .323 (21-for-65) with four doubles, a triple, two RBIs and six runs scored in June. Amarista is hitting .333 (13-for-39). Barmes is hitting .3-8 (8-for-26). Amarista is 8-for-22 in an active six-game hitting streak.

-- Second baseman Cory Spangenberg is 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts in his last three games and 3-for-23 since June 11 with one walk and 10 strikeouts as his average has slipped from .259 to .237. Other slumping Padres include Justin Upton (1-for-13 in last four games), Yangervis Solarte (2-for-14 last five games) and Derek Norris (2-for-17 last five games) and Will Middlebrooks (4-for-28 since June 8).

-- Second baseman Jedd Gyorko hit a game-winning single for Triple-A El Paso Thursday night. Since being optioned to the Chihuahuas on June 10, Gyorko is 5-for-28 (.179) with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and seven runs scored.

-- Left-hander Cory Luebke is scheduled to pitch an inning for Single-A Lake Elsinore tonight. It will be his third one-inning outing on his rehab assignment. In yesterday's Five Thoughts I mistaking stated the level as Triple-A. His rehab is currently two perfect innings with a strikeout for Single-A Lake Elsinore.