|Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields delivers a warmup pitch before facing the New York Yankees in their spring baseball game Wednesday, March 7, 2012, at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)|
Shields throws 2 perfect innings, Rays beat Yanks
TAMPA, Fla.—James Shields sailed through his first spring training start.
The Tampa Bay right-hander pitched two perfect innings, and the Rays beat the New York Yankees 4-0 on Wednesday.
"I felt really good," Shields said. "Felt kind of weird the first couple pitches, but that's just the normal first game of spring training. I was commanding my pitches for the most part."
Shields struck out Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. The 30-year old is coming off an All-Star season in which he went 16-12 with 11 complete games and four shutouts.
"Nobody has to, really, pressure James to do anything," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He's such a great worker. He's such a great self starter and motivator."
Hiroki Kuroda allowed three runs and three hits over two innings during his Yankees' spring training debut. New York signed the former Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher to a $10 million, one-year contract.
"The most important thing that I wanted to accomplish was the feeling for the real game, and I think I was able to do that, so I'm happy," Kuroda said through a translator. "I think there was something that I gained from this outing. I made sure that I had all my pitches, and I was able to throw a lot of good pitches."
Kuroda and opening day starter CC Sabathia are the only pitchers that Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said will be part of his rotation.
"I thought he threw some really good splits," Girardi said. "I thought he threw some good fastballs. I liked what I saw from him. I know he gave up a couple runs, but that doesn't bother me. I was pleased with where he's at physically."
The Rays are playing without Evan Longoria, who has a bruised right hand. The All-Star third baseman, hit by a pitch during an intrasquad game on March 1, has started hitting off a tee.
"It's fine ... he's just a sore," Maddon said. "Next couple days it should be pretty much back to normal."
Stephen Vogt, who had 105 RBIs at Double and Triple-A last season, drove in a pair of runs with a triple off Kuroda during a three-run second. He finished 3 for 3.
New York had just four hits off six pitchers.
"We love our pitching," Maddon said. "I like our team a lot, I really do."
Jeter was hitless in two at-bats and was charged with an error after the ball popped out of his glove while fielding Ben Zobrist's fifth-inning grounder.
New York added a Hall of Famer before the game when spring training instructor Yogi Berra arrived. He joins an instructors' group of former Yankees' stars that includes Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson and Lou Piniella.
"It felt like camp started today -- Yogi's here," Girardi said. "It was great to see him. It just kind of puts a smile on everyone's face. Things pick up around here a little bit."
Notes: New York closer Mariano Rivera, who has strongly hinted he will retire after this season, is to throw batting practice for the second time on Thursday and will likely pitch Sunday. ... Cano is expected to get retired C Jorge Posada's locker at Yankee Stadium, which is opposite to Jeter's at the back of the clubhouse, near the entrance to the showers. ... The Yankees agreed to one-year contracts with all their previous unsigned players ($480,000 minimum in majors unless noted): 2B David Adams, OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Dellin Betances ($481,000), LHP Cesar Cabral, C Francisco Cervelli ($513,700), 2B Corban Joseph, RHP George Kontos ($481,350), 3B Brandon Laird ($482,500), OF Justin Maxwell, OF Melky Mesa, RHP Brad Meyers, RHP D.J. Mitchell, RHP Ivan Nova ($527,200), SS Eduardo Nunez ($523,800), SS Ramiro Pena ($504,600), RHP David Phelps, RHP Michael Pineda ($528,475), C Austin Romine ($482,000) and RHP Cory Wade ($508,925).