White Sox’ James Shields to celebrate with, pitch against Rays this weekend
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It’s homecoming weekend for White Sox right-hander James Shields, who began his career with the Rays, pitched for them in the 2008 World Series and made the American League All-Star team with them in 2011, a season in which he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting.
Before the Sox play the Rays on Saturday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, Shields will be among those recognized during a 10-year anniversary ceremony toasting the team that defeated the Sox in the AL Division Series and took down the Red Sox in the AL Championship Series before falling to the Phillies in five games in the World Series.
Shields (4-13, 4.56 ERA) will start the series finale Sunday against the Rays, for whom he holds numerous career records, including victories (87), strikeouts (1,250), games started (217), complete games (19), innings (1,454 2/3) and shutouts (eight).
‘‘I was just glad they traded [Chris] Archer,’’ Shields, 36, quipped the other day. ‘‘Now all my records will be intact over there. And now that they’re going with all bullpen guys, they’ll hold up for 30 years. They might as well retire my number over there.’’
Shields pitched for the Rays from 2006 to 2012. He threw 11 complete games in 2011 and always will cherish the World Series memory.
‘‘It’s going to be cool to see some of the boys,’’ he said of the 2008 tribute. ‘‘Time flies. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we’ve been to the World Series.’’
Rays players wore Mohawk haircuts, and fans did, too. They called them ‘‘Rayhawks’’ and often dyed them blue.
‘‘They had barbers sitting in the ballpark parking lot and two-hour lines to get your Rays cut,’’ Shields said. ‘‘We had blue hair, and everyone was getting Mohawks. It was special. The city blew up.’’
Since coming to the Sox from the Padres in a midseason trade in 2016 for shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who since has developed into the No. 1 prospect in baseball, Shields has experienced the lows of pitching at less than 100 percent physically and having the worst season of his career (and being booed) and the high of being the Sox’ Opening Day starter in 2018 and leading a rebuilding team in innings, starts and strikeouts.
‘‘I’m definitely proud of my career, there is no doubt about it,’’ Shields said. ‘‘I will reflect more on my career when I’m done playing.’’
Shields, who ranks 65th on the all-time strikeout list with 2,192 and is second to the Astros’ Justin Verlander among active pitchers with 374 starts since 2007, isn’t ready for the end.
‘‘I have a few more years left in me,’’ he said.
This season has been bittersweet, Shields said.
‘‘I wish we would win more ballgames, but I can only control what I can do,’’ he said. ‘‘But, for the most part, I’ve been more consistent this year, and I’m happy about that.’’
NOTES: With catcher Kevan Smith on the paternity list, the White Sox recalled catcher Dustin Garneau from Class AAA Charlotte. Garneau, 30, was batting .206 with five home runs in 33 games.
• MLB Pipeline’s latest rankings list the Sox’ farm system No. 3, behind those of the Padres and Braves. The Sox, who were also third in the preseason rankings, have seven top-100 prospects: outfielder Eloy Jimenez (No. 3), right-hander Michael Kopech (No. 13), outfielder Luis Robert (No. 25), middle infielder Nick Madrigal (No. 32), right-hander Dylan Cease (No. 44), right-hander Dane Dunning (No. 64) and outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 89).