Shields will sit out regular season finale

Righty is healthy, but club wants a look at bullpen arms

Shields will sit out regular season finale

LOS ANGELES -- All week, the Padres had James Shields tentatively scheduled to start the regular-season finale against the Dodgers on Sunday.

As it turns out, Shields has already thrown his last pitch of the season, as interim manager Pat Murphy indicated Friday that Shields will sit that one out.

There's nothing wrong with Shields, it's just that the organization would prefer to take another look at some of the bullpen arms, Murphy said.

"We've decided as an organization that we're going to use it as a bullpen day and James is not going to pitch," Murphy said. "James wants to pitch and is ready to pitch. He was in my office talking about it today.

"But the organization thinks it's better to get a look at our bullpen pieces and use that game, like a lot of teams use that game, to find out more about your young players."

In his last start on Sept. 27 against the D-backs, Shields surpassed the 200-inning mark (he's at 202 1/3) for the ninth consecutive season. Earlier, he surpassed the 200-strikeout mark, finishing with 216.

He finishes the season with a 13-7 record and a 3.91 ERA, making each and every one of his 33 starts.

"I've definitely thrown better, no doubt about it." Shields said after his last start. "I go out there every five days and pitch with my heart on my sleeve. I'm going to be a bulldog out as much as I can. I'm hoping for better things next year."

So who will start Sunday? Murphy wasn't prepared to say so Friday, though the two pitchers who can work multiple innings out of the bullpen -- Bud Norris and Odrisamer Despaigne -- seem logical.

Other candidates to pitch Sunday include Jon Edwards, Jay Jackson, Nick Vincent, Marc Rzepczynski and Marcos Mateo.

• It looks like left fielder Justin Upton won't play during this series. Upton, who suffered a neck strain on Wednesday, hasn't been cleared to start swinging the bat yet, and was receiving treatment before Friday's game. Upton strained his neck when he ran headfirst into the padded wall in foul territory down the left-field line against the Brewers.

"I would say that's a pretty significant injury and for him to loosen up and see live pitching again, it would be a stretch," Murphy said. "Why do it? Why risk it?"

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.