- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of baseball's best middle relievers of the last decade announced his retirement Friday.
Shields, 35, was among the most reliable and resilient setup men in recent baseball history, going 46-44 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his career. He spent his career locking down the eighth inning for Angels closers Troy Percival, Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes.
"I am very thankful to have had the privilege and opportunity to play this great game at the major league level," Shields said in a statement. "I retire with memories and experiences I will carry with me the rest of my life and for that I am extremely grateful."
Drafted in the 38th round in 1997 out of Lincoln Memorial University, Shields debuted for the Angels in 2001, was a long reliever during their World Series season in 2002 and became a stalwart of manager Mike Scioscia's bullpen the following season, when he had a 2.85 ERA. From 2003 to '08, Shields averaged 65 appearances and had a 3.05 ERA.
Since the hold stat was created in 1999, Shields holds the American League career record in that category with 155.
He was chosen the "setup man of the decade" by Sports Illustrated for 2000-09. In 2004, Shields and Rodriguez each had more than 100 strikeouts, becoming the first pair of relievers to do so since 1997.
"He definitely understood the challenge of pitching late in games and in doing so, became the best setup man in baseball," Scioscia said.
Mark Saxon covers the Angels for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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