02/23/12 6:35 PM EST
Shields among ex-players at Angels camp
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
You can add longtime reliever Scot Shields to that list.
Shields, who spent his entire 10-year career with the Angels as one of the best middle relievers of his generation, decided to call it a career last March, four months away from his 36th birthday. He arrived in Angels camp at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Thursday, from his home in Detroit, and will be here until Monday as an observer and instructor.
"I'm just here if they need me," said Shields, who was dealing with knee issues toward the end of his career.
Shields is one of three first-time guest instructors the Angels are expected to have -- along with ex-shortstop David Eckstein and ex-catcher Bengie Molina. Mainstays Tim Salmon, Bobby Grich and Mark Langston will also attend, and former closer Troy Percival is tentatively scheduled to be here, too.
The Angels are expecting Salmon to be here Friday and Eckstein to arrive at some point next week.
"It was kind of neat to get to see the guys," Shields said. "The organization does a nice job of bringing some guys back and keeping them involved with the organization."
From 2001-10, Shields posted a 3.18 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP and 155 holds while setting up for closers like Percival, Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes.
Shields said he could see himself going the coaching route "down the road," but for now he's focused on spending time with his family. He hasn't sought out anybody in particular just yet, but Shields may drop a few tips to young closer Jordan Walden.
"He had a darn good year last year," Shields said. "He's definitely got a bright future ahead of him. ... He's got tons of potential and everything. I enjoyed watching him last year from home. He's got dynamic stuff."
New catcher Iannetta learning on the fly
TEMPE, Ariz. -- There isn't a busier player in Angels camp this spring than the new catcher, veteran Chris Iannetta.
Iannetta, acquired from the Rockies in late November for young starter Tyler Chatwood, is adjusting to a new league and, most important, an entirely new pitching staff -- a very good one, but a staff with a whole bunch of arms he's never caught and hardly ever seen before.
"He's got an important job ahead of him," right-hander Dan Haren said. "It's easy for [the pitchers], but he's got a lot of work to do."
Through his first four days in camp, Iannetta has been poring through evaluations, chatting up pitchers while jotting down notes, getting acclimated with manager Mike Scioscia -- a hands-on former catcher -- and taking in plenty of new information at the Tempe Diablo Stadium complex.
But it's all worth it when your final reward is dealing with the likes of Haren, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana -- the type of staff Iannetta said he's "always dreamed of" working with.
"They're all veteran guys, too, so they all know the league, they all know what they do well, they know the opposing hitters," Iannetta said. "So my job should be easy. It's just to learn from them, and then once I get a base of knowledge under my belt -- video and game experience -- just try to complement their knowledge of the game."
Drastic home-road splits aside, Iannetta's numbers last year -- .370 on-base percentage and 14 homers in 112 games -- prove he'll give the Angels a big offensive boost behind the plate, where the departed Jeff Mathis led a group that ranked 28th in the Majors in OPS last year.
What Iannetta needs to catch up on is building a solid rapport with his pitchers.
"That comes first, my ability to have a relationship with those guys on the mound -- my ability to be whatever they want me to be, to be honest with you," Iannetta said. "I'm not one specific player. Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. If it's to stand on my head and catch, I'll try it. It's just whatever they need.
"So I pride myself on my defense first. I think that's the key to having a quality start is making sure [the starting pitchers] have an opportunity to succeed."
Rodriguez reports after settling visa issues
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels reliever Francisco Rodriguez, limited to 23 2/3 innings in the Majors and Minors last year because of a shoulder injury, reported to camp Thursday after getting his visa issues settled in Mexico.
The right-hander posted a 4.37 ERA in 43 appearances in 2010, but was limited to only 10 Major League games last season due to issues with his labrum. Rodriguez had the option of having surgery, but said there was only a 40 percent chance that would fix the problem, so he instead went through a rehab program he feels has completely healed his shoulder.
"I feel very good," said Rodriguez, who was able to get in some rehab games in August last year. "It's recovered 100 percent. Now let's see how it feels to pitch without pain this year."
Rodriguez, who turns 29 on Sunday, was designated for assignment last offseason, then signed to a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. He threw his first bullpen session of the offseason last Friday, and now, he's in camp competing with an assortment of relievers for spots in the Halos' bullpen.
Except he doesn't see it that way.
"I'm coming here to compete against myself," Rodriguez said. "I'm not competing against anybody. I'm here to show that I'm healthy and to improve. It's all about improving yourself and learning from those around you. It's good that there's a lot of quality arms here, because you can learn a lot here. But just because there's a lot of good arms here doesn't mean there aren't opportunities. There's opportunity for everyone."
First baseman Albert Pujols and utility infielder Maicer Izturis, both of whom arrived before Sunday's position-player report date, each took the day off Thursday.
"They've been taking a lot of swings," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think those guys are going to have plenty of opportunity here to get where they need to be."
Now that reliever Francisco Rodriguez had his visa issues cleared up, the only player the Angels are waiting on is catcher Robinzon Diaz, a non-roster invitee still awaiting his visa from the Dominican Republic.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.