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In My Words: James Shields

Special to MLB.com

I know it is very important to have a guy with experience show the young players how to do things. Fortunately, when I was coming up, I had my cousin, Aaron Rowand. I trained with him a lot during the offseasons. He helped me a tremendous amount as far as dealing with the mental side of the game. He helped me handle all the trials and tribulations of playing baseball.

Aaron told me how to prepare for the 162-game grind. He stressed that you always have to be mentally prepared. You need to have a good routine between starts. Even as a starting pitcher, you have to prepare yourself every day like you're going to play. As long as you work hard each day, you've got a chance to succeed. That's the main thing where he helped me out.

I know it is very important to have a guy with experience show the young players how to do things. Fortunately, when I was coming up, I had my cousin, Aaron Rowand. I trained with him a lot during the offseasons. He helped me a tremendous amount as far as dealing with the mental side of the game. He helped me handle all the trials and tribulations of playing baseball.

Aaron told me how to prepare for the 162-game grind. He stressed that you always have to be mentally prepared. You need to have a good routine between starts. Even as a starting pitcher, you have to prepare yourself every day like you're going to play. As long as you work hard each day, you've got a chance to succeed. That's the main thing where he helped me out.

When I got called up to Tampa Bay in 2006, we had a similar situation as to what we have with the Sox. We had such a young team. I remember they called me "Gray Beard" at the age of 25. I was the oldest guy on the pitching staff. We were in the middle of a rebuild. We lost 101 games in 2006 and 96 in 2007. Then we went to the World Series in 2008. No doubt, it shows you how quickly things can turn around.

The White Sox have a lot of great young talent throughout the entire organization. It's just a matter of these young guys believing in themselves, believing they can win. They're going to be fun to watch the next few years. For my role here, it's not as important to be the leader. It's more important to teach our staff to stick together, to be brothers. The atmosphere I try to portray to everyone in the clubhouse is that we're all in this together. We need to bounce things off each other, to help each other.

If I can help in any way, that's what I try to do. It all depends on the situation. If one of the young guys is going too fast in a game -- the game speeds up on you -- I might talk to them about that. I'll work with them on how to guide your way through a game.

I want them to feel supported, and I want them to support me when I'm out there. That's the kind of atmosphere I want to bring here. I keep going back to that brotherhood.

When I think about my career, it hasn't sunk in that I've played as long as I have. More than anything, it's my kids who are making me feel a little older. I have a 14-year old who is going to be a freshman in high school next year. That's hard for me to believe.

I've been fortunate to have a good long run in the big leagues. Hopefully, I can continue. As long as my body holds up, I'll keep playing.

I always go back to something Andy Pettitte once told me. We were working out in a gym, and I asked him for one piece of advice. He said, "You're never going to stop learning until you're done playing this game."

That was a long time ago, but it is so true. At this point in my career, I'm still learning something every day. I pass that advice on to the guys here.

This is a very humbling game. You have to keep working at it. That's why I enjoy every minute.

As told to Ed Sherman.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields