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Shields makes Cactus League debut

Shields' arm feels good after debut

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- For Scot Shields, all that really mattered were these four words: "My arm felt awesome."

The rest -- the good, bad and ugly -- represented relatively small matters in the big picture, to be taken in stride.

Making his Cactus League debut on Tuesday in a 6-5 loss to the Royals, Shields cast aside early-spring shoulder soreness, took the Surprise Stadium mound and threw four balls to the first Royals hitter he faced, Alex Gordon.

"Not even close -- I don't know what happened," Shields said.

Quickly, the Angels' setup artist remembered how it's done. He found his rhythm and the strike zone, giving up two fly balls to left, a homer to left by Damon Hollins and a single that led to the third out on a strong throw by Jeff Mathis catching Shane Costa trying to steal.

"After that first hitter," Shields said, "I stayed behind [with my body] and was able to get on top of the ball and throw down in the zone."

Shields threw 16 pitches, all fastballs, nine for strikes. The offspeed stuff will come next time out.

"It's Spring Training," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It's about where you expect Shieldsy to be. He had a good bullpen, his arm felt good ..."

Shields would have preferred three up, three down, but he achieved his basic purpose of getting his first game action out of the way.

"The home run was such a mistake," Shields said. "It was up at his shoulders, and he tomahawked the heck out of it. You never want to give up a home run, but I was excited to get out there. I was down in the zone for the most part, except for that pitch."

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Shields said he didn't think about his shoulder, but that's par for the course.

"When I'm out there," he said, "[I] don't feel it even if my arm's hanging."

Shields knows the season opener in Minnesota is 18 days away.

"Now it's time to go out and bear down," he said. "The season's two and a half weeks away. It's time to fine-tune everything and get into game shape."

Shields' illustrious partner at the back end of the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez, made his third Cactus League appearance and watched his streak of consecutive outs end at seven when John Buck singled with one out, moved to third on Alberto Callaspo's double and scored on an infield out.

"I felt pretty good -- strong," K-Rod said. "My fastball didn't have the location I wanted. I threw fastballs and a couple changeups. I feel real strong compared to last year."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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