White Sox’ James Shields gets knocked around, says ‘definitely not a concern’

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White Sox pitcher James Shields (background) kicks the dirt after the A’s Matt Joyce led off Sunday’s game with a home run. (AP/Chris Carlson)

MESA, Ariz. — Right-hander James Shields was back on the mound Sunday, his first game action in 10 days and only his second appearance of the spring.

The word ‘‘disaster’’ comes to mind.

How much is too much to make of a bad day at the office for a pitcher — especially a veteran starter — in March? In a 14-0 defeat to the Athletics, Shields certainly resembled the version of himself who has been over a barrel for much of his nearly two seasons with the White Sox.

He threw four innings of one-run, three-hit ball March 8. That’s how an opening-day starter — which Shields is on this team, whether Sox fans like it or not — is supposed to look. This time, though, he was roughed up for seven earned runs and eight hits in 3‰ innings. That’s . . . not.

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‘‘Yeah, I mean, it was a tough day,’’ he said. ‘‘I wasn’t getting ahead of hitters, and when you don’t get ahead of hitters, you tend to throw a lot of pitches. . . . Back to the drawing board.’’

It would be preferable if Shields discovers a method of pitching that doesn’t include giving up a home run to the first batter he faces, which in this game was A’s designated hitter Matt Joyce. In the fateful fourth inning, third baseman Sheldon Neuse annihilated a three-run homer that nearly hit the ‘‘Hohokam’’ sign on the grassy hill in left-center.

Just how concerning is this development?

‘‘It’s definitely not a concern, but, you know, I’ve definitely got to fix it — bottom line,’’ Shields said. ‘‘Today wasn’t a very good day. My last outing was [good]. Hopefully this next outing we’re going to finish strong and get ready for the season.’’

Crushing it

Third baseman Matt Davidson entered play Sunday leading the Cactus League with 16 RBI. His .612 slugging percentage, .411 on-base percentage and 30 total bases all ranked among the top 10.

Second baseman Yoan Moncada and right fielder Avisail Garcia led the Cactus League with 14 runs scored and seven doubles, respectively. All three had the day off.

Oh, no, Polanco

Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance stanozolol, Major League Baseball announced.

Why not take this moment of darkness to recall that Polanco hit seven of his 13 homers last season against the Sox? Six of them came during a six-game stretch that included long balls in four consecutive games in August at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Follow me on Twitter @SLGreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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