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Shields solid in debut, ready to hit reset button

White Sox righty would rather forget last season's struggles
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For a professional pitcher of James Shields' stature, the right-hander's 2016 combined season for the Padres and White Sox is one he'd rather forget.

"I wasn't very good," the now 35-year-old Shields said Wednesday when asked what happened after pitching his first two innings of the spring in a 3-2 White Sox walk-off win over the D-backs at Camelback Ranch.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For a professional pitcher of James Shields' stature, the right-hander's 2016 combined season for the Padres and White Sox is one he'd rather forget.

"I wasn't very good," the now 35-year-old Shields said Wednesday when asked what happened after pitching his first two innings of the spring in a 3-2 White Sox walk-off win over the D-backs at Camelback Ranch.

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Why?

"To be completely honest with you, there was no rhyme or reason for it," he said. "I think my delivery was out of whack. My ball was flat. For the most part I was up in the zone. There was a combination of things. We addressed that toward the end of the season last year. We're addressing it right now and moving forward."

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Wednesday was the beginning of the reset from a season during which Shields netted a 6-19 record, 5.85 ERA and 40 homers allowed. He struck out three and allowed a run on two hits. When Jake Lamb doubled to open the second and scored on a Chris Owings' single, it looked like Shields of a year ago.

But then he retired the last two D-backs without incident to end the inning.

Video: Veteran Shields motivated after offseason work

Rick Renteria, the new White Sox manager, said beforehand that Shields needs a different psychological outlook this season.

"You know what? This is a fresh start for Shieldsy," Renteria said. "You don't want to change anything except it's another new year. He's obviously a gentleman who's been in the game for quite a while. He's had some really good success over his career. I think he just wants to go out there and be himself again. Try to just command the zone the way he has in the past. Be able to sequence his pitches and execute."

Shields, an 11-year veteran of four teams, has a .534 winning percentage and 1,977 strikeouts in 2,294 1/3 innings, earning the nickname from high school through his Tampa Bay days with Joe Maddon as "Big Game" James.

He's just trying to get back to that place.

"I guess one of the best attributes for a baseball player is to have amnesia," Shields said. "I'm not really worried about last season. I'm focused on right now and the work I put in this offseason. The work I'm putting in in Spring Training. So far I feel really good and hopefully we'll move forward and progress as we go."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields