Yes, I say "back with the Red Sox" because, though it's hard to remember that far back, Shouse appeared for 7 games with the Sox back in 1998 (of only 13 MLB games from his major league debut at age 25 with the Pirates in 1993 until 2002). I haven't seen anything announcing the 41-year-old reliever's return to the Sox but lo and behold,
there he is on the non-roster ST invitees and on the transaction log, so apparently he signed with the team on January 4- presumably to a minor league deal to compete for a spot in the bullpen in Spring Training.
If this is the case, he'll be joining a whole host of other players including Dustin Richardson, Scott Atchinson, Boof Bonser, Fabio Castro, Robert Manuel, the other Ramon Ramirez, and possibly Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa for what is probably only one spot on the 40-man roster. Seems to me like with that many chances, one of them ought to do decently, right?
So what particular skills can Shouse offer? Let's look
The short answer is not really a whole ton. Essentially he is a prime example of a career LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY). He gets thrown in to face a lefty and then taken out nearly immediately. In fact, only once in his career (that 7 game stint with the Sox) has he averaged an inning or more per appearance (last year with the Rays, he pitche 28 innings in 45 appearances). Now why is that?
Over his career, the lefty sidearm thrower has actually been quite effective against lefties- holding them to a career line of .213/.262/.330. Lately, he's lived up to that, in 2009 posting a line against lefties of .224/.246/.373. While he's proved effective here, he has really been nothing short of terrible against right-handed batters: in 2009 righties facing him posted a startling line of .356/.442/.622, only striking out 3 in 52 plate appearances while walking 6.
One of the weaknesses that the 'pen has right now is a lack of lefties- Okajima is the only one at the moment and, while he may be devastating against left-handed batters, he is only one pitcher and can't be expected to be up there every game.
Since, of all the people trying out for the spot in the bullpen, only a few are lefties (Shouse, Richardson, and Castro), I can understand why the Sox would want to have some more options open, but frankly I'd say it looks like the chances of Shouse managing to crack the big league team are pretty minimal in 2010.
As an aside, if anyone wants to see some absolutely disgusting numbers against lefties (in a very small sample size), look up Fabio Castro's splits.