James Shields might not miss a start, after all. The self described “bulldog” says the back that tightened up on him last week is coming around, so he plans on starting Saturday against his former team, the Kansas City Royals.For Sox fans who have seen enough of Shields and his 7.50 ERA and were to get a peak at some young blood such as Downers Grove first-round 100-mph power arm Zack Burdi, as well as another look at 2015 No. 8 overall pick Carson Fulmer, it’s wait till next year, general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday.
The Sox made their last September call-ups Tuesday and those AAA Charlotte right-handers were not among them. Infielder-outfielder Leury Garcia, outfielder Jason Coats and right-hander Blake Smith were added, following right-hander Juan Minaya and catcher Kevan Smith, who were called up last week. Garcia (center field) and Coats (DH) were in the lineup Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Burdi, the Sox’ second first-round pick in June after catcher Zack Collins, pitched 68 innings in relief between the University of Louisville and four minor league levels.
“We felt enough was enough for him,’’ Hahn said. “We view it as a very successful year, one in which he squarely put himself on the map for the not too distant future for us. We expect to see him in big league camp and show what he can do against big league hitters.’’
Fulmer began the year as a starter, pitched in relief for the Sox (with 11 earned runs and seven walks over 11 1/3 innings) and then as a starter again when sent back to Charlotte.
“We view him as a potential starting piece for us in the future,’’ Hahn said. “He’s going to head home on a high note based on his last three starts [one earned run, three walks, 14 strikeouts over 15 innings] down in Charlotte.’’
Shields, meanwhile, wants to head into the offseason on a high note after getting tagged for 26 home runs and owning a 3-10 record over 84 innings covering 17 starts with the Sox. Between the Padres and Sox he’ll fall short of 200 innings for the first time after nine straight seasons.
“I’ve been through a lot worse [physically] than this in my career,’’ said Shields, whose back was checked by a doctor Monday. “It’s just a minor setback, not a big deal.’’
Shields, who is owed $10 million in each of the next two seasons by the Sox (the Padres are on the hook for the rest of his salary), called this season as “frustrating” and “crazy.” He believes his stuff is as good as it’s always been.
“I feel like it,’’ he said. “Some years you have a really good fell for the baseball and some years you don’t. Unfortunately this year I haven’t felt it like I wanted to. I’ve been a bulldog my whole career and I’m going to hopefully finish strong and assess things this offseason.’’
Hahn said Shields’ back “checks out in a way that’s consistent with him being without restriction and being able to make that next start.”
“Hopefully he finishes strong,” Hahn said. “We want him to finish healthy and go into the offseason on a positive note and come back to spring training looking much more like the guy we saw for [one very good] stretch [between two bad ones] opposed to anything like what we’ve seen when he struggled.”