Flip-flop sets Shields up to face Verlander

Flip-flop sets Shields up to face Verlander

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields will remain on regular rest despite Monday's off-day.

The Rays' No. 1 starter had been slated to start the third game of the series against the Tigers, which will be played on Thursday afternoon in Detroit. But Shields has now been flip-flopped with No. 5 starter Jeff Niemann, which means Shields will start on Wednesday afternoon, when the Tigers start 2011 American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander.

"Throughout the season, it's cool to get an extra day or so every now and then," Shields said. "But we've been on five days the whole Spring Training, so I'm fine with it."

Because of the change, Shields will be able to start the April 16 Patriots' Day game against the Red Sox in Boston, which will start at 11 a.m. ET because it's the day the Boston Marathon is held.

Had Shields remained on rotation, he would have pitched against the Blue Jays in Toronto on April 17.

"Whether or not I'm facing Boston or Toronto, both of those teams are pretty good," Shields said. "I'm ready to go."

As for Niemann, he's fine with the change. Will he consider running in the Boston Marathon now that he's not starting that day's game? Niemann smiled at the question.

"You never know," he said.