On his first minor-league bus ride in more than a decade, right-hander James Shields flashed back to his younger days.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” Shields, 35, said with a grin Wednesday after returning from an injury-rehabilitation assignment with Class AAA Charlotte. “It was pretty interesting. But the guys are great down there.”
Shields is ready to rejoin the White Sox’ rotation after spending nearly two months on the disabled list because of a strained right lat. He is scheduled to start Sunday against the Blue Jays.
In his third injury-rehab start Tuesday, Shields threw 90 pitches in five innings.
“Obviously, it’s a work in progress,” said Shields, who was 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA before his injury. “I’m still getting my arm back in shape, and I feel like it’s pretty good right now. I feel pretty solid to go.”
During his stint in Charlotte, Shields talked with pitching prospects Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez. He said he waited for the prospects to approach him before dispensing advice.
“They asked me a lot of questions,” Shields said. “They wanted my opinion on some of their games. . . .
“That pitching staff is doing really good down there. They’re all working hard, and I’m sure they’re biting at the bit to get up to the big leagues.”
The Sox made two notable selections as the draft concluded with Rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.
In the 35th round, they took 18-year-old right-hander Riley Crean from Bloomington (Indiana) North High School. Crean is the son of former Marquette and Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean.
Four rounds later, they drafted 18-year-old right-hander Chance King from IMG Academy in Beverly Hills, California. King’s father is Larry King, longtime host of CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
The third day of the draft also included a local flavor. The Sox selected Indiana State right-hander Will Kincanon of Riverside with their 11th pick and UIC second baseman David Cronin of Orland Park with their 20th pick.
In the 38th round, the Sox selected 17-year-old catcher Dylan Horvitz from New Trier High School. They used their 40th and last pick to take left-hander Angelo Smith from Richards High School. Smith is a member of Amateur City Elite, an inner-city youth baseball program created by the Sox in 2007.
All told, the Sox added 22 pitchers and 18 position players in the draft. Thirty-four college players and six high school players were selected.
The Sox plan to start Jose Quintana, Mike Pelfrey and Shields during their three-game series in Toronto this weekend.
Derek Holland, Miguel Gonzalez and Quintana are penciled in for the next series in Minnesota.
That means left-hander David Holmberg is the odd man out of the rotation after he starts the series finale against the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Holmberg has pitched in 11 games (three starts) for the Sox.
The Sox optioned reliever Juan Minaya to Charlotte after the game. He had an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings (seven appearances). The team will make a corresponding move before the game Thursday.
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