With the pain in his troublesome left knee failing to subside in the nearly three weeks since he went on the disabled list, Angels reliever Scot Shields on Sunday said he has opted for season-ending surgery.
Shields said he made the decision Saturday night after consulting with Dr. Lewis Yocum, the Angels' medical director. Even if he were able to return later this season, Shields said, there were concerns that his patella tendinitis could compromise his mechanics and put him at risk of suffering a more significant injury.
"The way I was pitching this year wasn't fair to me and wasn't fair to the team and wasn't doing us any good," said Shields, who was 1-3 with a 6.62 earned-run average in 20 games before going on the disabled list May 26. "Hopefully I get back to 100% and pitch the way I know I can pitch and help this team."
Yocum will operate Tuesday to repair the knee that has bothered Shields since late last season. Recovery time is expected to be six months, meaning the right-hander should be back to full strength by the start of spring training.
The absence of Shields will deprive the Angels of one of the most reliable setup men in baseball. From 2004 to 2008, the right-hander led all major league relievers with 425 innings and went 35-29 with a 3.11 ERA.
"He has the ability to throw five out of six days if he needed to and minimal rest to come back and be able to do it again," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't know if I've been around a pitcher that had that ability to be that durable and maintain his stuff."
Though the Angels have inquired with other teams about available relievers in the wake of Shields' injury and former setup man Jose Arredondo's ineffectiveness, Scioscia said, "Right now we think we see some solutions in-house."
The manager mentioned Justin Speier, Darren Oliver, Kevin Jepsen and Jason Bulger as possible eighth-inning options, though only Oliver among that group has an ERA lower than 4.63.
"I don't think it has to evolve into one eighth-inning guy, but if it does, great," Scioscia said. "That means somebody's stepping up. Right now we're going to have to go by committee to get to" closer Brian Fuentes.
The Angels have spoken with the Colorado Rockies about reliever Huston Street, and other possible targets include Jose Valverde or LaTroy Hawkins of the Houston Astros or Chad Qualls of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Veteran reliever Rudy Seanez, who signed with the Angels last month and reported to the minor leagues, is still sidelined by a strained chest muscle.
Right-hander Kelvim Escobar, recovering from soreness in his shoulder, threw on flat ground but could be put on the disabled list if it does not appear he is prepared to pitch out of the bullpen by Wednesday, Scioscia said. Escobar's stint on the DL would probably not be a long one, however; he would be eligible to return June 22. . . . Third baseman Chone Figgins doubled twice and is batting .408 over his last 30 games, raising his average from .242 to .326. His average is second among American League leadoff hitters behind Ichiro Suzuki's .360 average.
AT SAN FRANCISCO
Where: AT&T Park.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830, 1330.
Pitchers: John Lackey vs. Barry Zito. Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.: Ervin Santana (1-3, 7.47) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (2-6, 4.84). Wednesday, 12:45 p.m.: Matt Palmer (6-0, 4.11) vs. Tim Lincecum (6-1, 2.66).
Update: The Angels' stretch of games against National League West counterparts continues at AT&T Park, where they have dropped four of their last five games. Lackey has lost his last two decisions and was roughed up in his last start, surrendering 11 hits and nine runs -- eight earned -- Wednesday during a 9-5 loss to Tampa Bay. Zito has won both his starts this month despite going the minimum five innings required of a starter for a victory. In his last outing, Wednesday against Arizona, he gave up seven hits and four runs during the Giants' 6-4 victory.
-- Ben Bolch