White Sox manager Robin Ventura wasn’t ruling out the possibility of James Shields being shut down for the rest of the season.
Shields, 34, whose latest bad outing ended after 2 1/3 innings of work and five runs on five hits including three Twins home runs Saturday, was bothered by a back issue before and during the start, although he declined to say it affected his performance. Trainer Herm Schneider and Ventura walked out to check on him during the third inning.
“We’ve got to get a better handle on what’s going on with James,” Ventura said Monday.
“We’re continuing to get treatment on that and pin down a little bit more if he’s going to be able to go out there without bothering him.”
Since the Sox made what turned into a regrettable trade for him on June 4, Shields has wrapped two very ineffective stretches around one good one. Between the San Diego Padres and Sox he’s 5-17 with a 6.07 ERA and would be in jeopardy of losing 20 games if he finished out the season. Taking the Sox’ place in the standings and Shields’ health into consideration as well, calling it a year could be in the cards.
“You could,” Ventura said. “But he’s working hard to get everything healthy and feel good and be ready to go.”
The Sox are paying Shields $5 million in 2016 and are on the hook for $10 million of the pitcher’s $21 million salaries in each of the next two seasons. With the Sox, Shields is 3-10 with a 7.50 ERA with 26 homers allowed in 86 innings. Shields didn’t use the back problem as an excuse but expressed frustration after his latest rough outing Saturday.
“A guy that has pitched this long and has done as well as he has, it can be pretty high,” Ventura said of the former All-Star with a 132-114 record and 3.90 ERA who is 49 innings shy of pitching 200 or more for the ninth straight year. “But he puts it behind him, he comes in and works, does all the things you expect a guy that’s a pro to do.’’
Anthony Ranaudo (9.12 in five starts), who has filled the spot vacated by Miguel Gonzalez, could stay in the rotation when Gonzalez returns from the disabled list to face the Tigers Tuesday. A possible September call-up such as Carson Fulmer could also take a start or two.