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Shields taking chance on reworked delivery

Veteran right-hander adopted lower arm slot late last season
Special to MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- James Shields unveiled a new delivery in the middle of last season, had success with it and has continued to fine-tune it in Spring Training.

Shields will make his first Chicago White Sox start on Thursday against the Texas Rangers and he will be throwing mostly from his newfound three-quarters angle, rather than over the top.

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- James Shields unveiled a new delivery in the middle of last season, had success with it and has continued to fine-tune it in Spring Training.

Shields will make his first Chicago White Sox start on Thursday against the Texas Rangers and he will be throwing mostly from his newfound three-quarters angle, rather than over the top.

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"Just drop down a little bit more, maybe a little more deception," Shields said Wednesday. "It's a work in progress right now in Spring Training. It seemed to work out well at the end of the season and we're going to try to go with it."

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Shields is 9-19 with a 5.99 ERA in 43 White Sox starts since being acquired in a June 4, 2016, trade with the San Diego Padres. In his final eight starts last season with the lower arm release, he went 3-3 with a 4.28 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .223 batting average. In 48 1/3 innings, he struck out 45 batters.

The new delivery could rejuvenate the career of the 36-year-old right-hander.

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"I hope so, but I'm going to fight every five days," Shields said. "No matter what my results are, I go out there every five days and kind of bulldog it out. I'm not really worried about the results, but just staying healthy."

White Sox manager Rick Renteria liked what he saw from Shields' revamped delivery last season.

"He came into camp and continued to work on that and continued to feel comfortable with it," Renteria said. "It's a slot he found in the middle of the season last year and it did help him a lot. He derived a lot of ground balls after that, kept the ball in the ballpark, was able to command the strike zone much more effectively and was able to use his secondary pitches from that slot pretty well.

"He felt comfortable with that and I think the confidence of finding something that was going to work was a big key for him."

Shields acknowledges the adrenaline will be up a level when batters with different colored jerseys step in the box against him.

"I hope so. I could use some adrenaline right now," Shields said. "The backfield stuff is all good for work. I'm excited to get in the game tomorrow, get ready to go and join the team.

"Get my pitch count up, work on a few things and get some innings in. I don't have real high expectations, just go out there and do my thing. Get some work in and I'll finally get a chance to face live hitters, so it's going to be nice to see."

Video: LAA@CWS: Shields strikes out eight over seven innings

Shields has been an Opening Day starter seven times in his career and could throw the White Sox first pitch this season on March 29 at Kansas City, one of his former clubs.

"As a veteran that's been doing it for a long time, I have high expectations of myself every single year," Shields said. "My goal is to go out and get some wins for this ballclub."

He has been credited with teaching the Royals to win as they went 29 years without a postseason appearance before his arrival. Now, he is tutoring the young White Sox on what it takes it win in the Major Leagues.

"I don't know if it's teaching anybody how to win," Shields said. "It's more or less creating a good atmosphere around the clubhouse and creating good chemistry. Making the guys in this clubhouse believe that we can win. It's about winning and believing you can win and having that good attitude."

Shields is the most experienced player in the White Sox clubhouse with more than 11 years in the Majors. He says he sees similarities between the White Sox clubhouse and the young Royals' clubhouse he walked into in 2013.

"I do," Shields said. "It's funny. I was looking at the timecards the other day and I think we have, like, only 16 guys with over three years in this clubhouse with 67 guys, so we have a young club and a lot of talent. I'm excited to watch [what] these kids do this year. They work hard and have fun and are enjoying themselves right now.

"That's the difference. Whether we win or lose, sometimes we're going to get our butts kicked and sometimes we're going to out there and win games. At the end of the day, it's about winning and believing you can win and having that good attitude."

Alan Eskew is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, James Shields