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White Sox fifth-starter spot in flux this month

Ranaudo aims to stick in rotation, while Shields may be shut down
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Anthony Ranaudo believes his place in Major League Baseball is as a starting pitcher, even if the statistics have not supported the affable right-hander as part of the White Sox rotation.

But even with Miguel Gonzalez returning from the disabled list to start Tuesday, Ranaudo still might get some rotation chances throughout the remaining 25 games after Monday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers.

Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- Anthony Ranaudo believes his place in Major League Baseball is as a starting pitcher, even if the statistics have not supported the affable right-hander as part of the White Sox rotation.

But even with Miguel Gonzalez returning from the disabled list to start Tuesday, Ranaudo still might get some rotation chances throughout the remaining 25 games after Monday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers.

Full Game Coverage

James Shields, who has mainly struggled with the White Sox, continues to deal with back tightness as mentioned by White Sox manager Robin Ventura on Monday morning. The combination of the two potentially could shut down Shields for September.

"You could. There's part of it that you could feel that way," said Ventura of Shields. "But again, he's working hard to get everything healthy and feel good and be ready to go.

Video: CWS@DET: Shields allows two runs over six innings

"We're continuing to get treatment on that. We're trying to pin down a little bit more if he's going to be able to go out there and it's not going to bother him."

Shields didn't feel great before his last start against the Twins on Saturday at Target Field, and felt the issue again in the third inning. He said after the game that the injury shouldn't cost him a start.

Since the beginning of August, covering seven starts, Shields has allowed 38 runs on 51 hits over 28 1/3 innings. He has struck out 19, walked 15 and given up 15 home runs.

Ranaudo rejoined the rotation Aug. 17 and has given up 23 earned runs on 30 hits in 19 innings. He has 11 strikeouts, seven walks and seven home runs against him.

"Pretty ugly. Part of my career that is really difficult for me right now," said Ranaudo with an honest evaluation of his work. "I just have to get through it and believe in what I believe in.

"I believe in myself as a starter. It's one of those stretches where every mistake that I make is being hit and it's being magnified. It's pretty poor timing. The ones that I'm leaving over the plate are getting hit pretty hard. I know I'm getting opportunities. I have to take advantage of them right now."

Carson Fulmer, the team's top prospect per MLBPipeline.com, was sent to Triple-A Charlotte to stretch out as a starter, and it was talked about the right-hander getting a few Major League starting opportunities in September. That move has yet to be decided with the Knights in playoff contention.

Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon and Gonzalez are starting certainties over the final weeks. The fifth starter, or combination for the fifth, remains under consideration.

"I think I'm a starter. I need to just make better pitches," Ranaudo. "I might throw the right amount of strikes, but they are not quality strikes. I need to be more in the bottom of the zone, sharpen up my slider and command my curveball more. And know when to throw in my changeup."

has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago White Sox, Carson Fulmer, Miguel Gonzalez, Anthony Ranaudo, James Shields