I'm the type of guy who likes the same approach every single outing, and I try to
do the same thing.
When you became a member of this team, what were your friends, your
family, and what was your perspective given all the losing? What did people ask
JAMES SHIELDS: Well, I got drafted in 2000 by this team, so I was
about three years in, and it's the inaugural season in '97, I believe. It was one of
those things where I felt it was an opportunity for me as a ball player to advance
in this game, to be able to go to the big leagues.
I mean, I've heard people say if you get drafted by the Yankees, you're not going
to get too many opportunities to get to the big leagues. The Devil Rays at the
time gave me an opportunity, and I've seen them grow. This off season I signed a
contract with them, and I felt that when a new ownership came in, they felt -- we
felt as players that they wanted to win, and I think that's huge.
You know, my family members, they're all good. I'm in the big leagues, and I'm
living my dream right now.
How grateful are you to have a cousin that gave you a tough love speech
like he did a few years ago?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, not many people get an opportunity to
have a cousin that's in the big leagues and kind of show you the way.
You know, about five years back I was kind of being lazy and not really doing too
much and just trying to let my talent take over, and that wasn't good enough. He
kind of grabbed me from California and said, hey, look, man, why don't you come
out and work out with me out in Vegas and I'm going to show you how big
leaguers really work out and how to stay healthy every season and do what it
takes to succeed in this game.
To be able to have him do that for me and show me the way, it was unbelievable.
Joe has a lot of quotes up in the clubhouse. What do you guys make of all
those, and is there one that you like and why?
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, he's got a lot of quotes, man (laughter).
It's kind of funny. I mean, a lot of times when he puts his quote out there, we
kind of look at each other and chuckle a little bit. It doesn't make sense at the
time, but sure enough, it makes sense at the end.
I remember in Spring Training he brought out this 9 = 8 thing, and we kind of all
looked at each other like what's this guy talking about. And it made sense at the
end. It did, it really did. We believed in it, and we believed in ourselves, and I
think that's kind of what the point of all his slogans talk about is you've got to
believe in yourselves before anybody else does.
Our organization being here the last three years in the big leagues, we haven't
done that, and we do now, and I think that's the reason why we've had success
Is there one that you ...
JAMES SHIELDS: Probably the one -- the 9 = 8 probably takes it all
over. That's something that nobody would probably ever think about. I think
that's kind of grown to me a little bit this year.
Garza said last night he kind of proved to himself that he could pitch at this
level and this kind of stage. Considering you pitched so well in your first two
starts in the postseason, how much more confident are you going into Game
JAMES SHIELDS: I feel pretty confident. I'm the type of guy that's
always been pretty confident in what I've got. I want the ball every fifth day.
That's my job. I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody because I know what
I can do out there, and I know what I'm capable of doing out there.
I think my rookie year, I think I tried to prove what I've got, and am I able to
stay in this league. Other than that, I think I have a lot of confidence.
Joe was saying that the mood in the clubhouse today is good. Can you tell
us what kind of an effect have the last two games had on the mood or the
JAMES SHIELDS: You know, I really don't think it has too much
different effect as far as the way that we feel. We've approached every single
day the same way.
You know, that's the reason why we've had success all year is because we've had
fun, we're relaxed, we all get along. There's really no policing in the clubhouse. I
mean, everybody knows their job and everyone gets their work in every day and
shows up at the ballpark with a smile on their face and has fun.
I think obviously the last two games have definitely made us feel a little bit
better about this series, but like I said, we take it one game at a time and try to
take the same approach every single game.
When the staff gets a performance like yours in Game 1, Matt Garza's last
night, does that set a higher -- raise the bar? Does it set a higher standard,
higher expectation for everybody?
JAMES SHIELDS: The funny thing about that is all year long -- we're a
bunch of young guys. They call me the old man of the staff because I'm 26 years
old and I'm the oldest guy on our staff. It's kind of an ongoing joke in the
You know, we all get along. We're close in age, and it's one of those things where
we've been doing it all year long, where if one guy steps up, the next guy is
stepping up, and if one guy doesn't step up, the next guy is stepping up.
We thrive off that. We kind of feed off each other. I think that's what it's all
about. We've had such a good relationship together as all five of us starters and
we've had a lot of success this year and we've learned from each other.
I'll be throwing a game one day and Edwin will come up to me, saying, how did
you get these guys out? We're always talking and communicating, and it's good
to see. I think for me being the oldest guy on the staff, we're going to have five
or six years together, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.