White Sox’ Shields allows one run in four innings in first outing

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander James Shields made his first start of the spring Thursday, and the White Sox’ likely opening-day starter must have felt close to being ready after allowing one run in four innings in a split-squad game against the Rangers in Surprise.

Shields, who had been working on the back fields in simulated games, walked one and struck out three. One of the three hits he allowed was a solo home run.

‘‘I got a lot of ground balls [six outs], which is exactly what I’d been working on since the end of last year,’’ Shields told reporters. ‘‘Overall, I felt pretty good.’’

Manager Rick Renteria hasn’t set his rotation and still has 20 days till opening day. But Shields figures to start against the Royals on March 29 in Kansas City.

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‘‘I haven’t really been pitching well the last couple of years, but if they want to give me the nod, I’m all in,’’ Shields said. ‘‘But I’m not too worried about that. I’m worried about staying healthy and [pitching] every five days.’’

Based in part on how Sox pitchers are lined up between now and the regular season, the rotation is looking like Shields, followed by right-handers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer.

But Fulmer, who will start Friday against the Padres, has struggled in his first two outings. Non-roster left-hander Hector Santiago has excelled this spring and is an obvious fallback should Fulmer not get untracked.

Jimenez wants in

Top outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez (tendinitis in left knee) was back at full activity for the second consecutive day and told Renteria he wants to play Saturday against the Cubs in Mesa.

‘‘We’ll see how he responds after this day,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We’ll hear all the medicals and make sure he’s in a good position to play in a ballgame.’’

Jimenez, who is ranked the No. 4 overall prospect by Baseball America, said he isn’t 100 percent but is close.

‘‘It feels very good right now,’’ Jimenez said. ‘‘I think I can play, but it depends on what [Renteria] and the trainers say.’’

Robert has sore thumb

Outfield prospect Luis Robert was in the trainers’ room after playing the hero with a grand slam in his first Cactus League start Wednesday. He left practice early to have a sore left thumb looked at and was walking around with it wrapped later in the day.

‘‘A little sore thumb, so we’re checking it out,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘We’re being very cautious.’’

The quote

Jimenez, on Robert’s grand slam: ‘‘Ooof! That was pretty good. That was pretty awesome. He said in the dugout: ‘I’m the only guy who doesn’t have a hit today. I’m going to do something.’ And he did it.’’

This and that

Left-hander Robbie Ross, who signed a minor-league contract Sunday, has thrown two live batting-practice sessions and is expected to pitch Friday against the Padres.

• Right-hander Gregory Infante (shoulder inflammation) said he is getting back to work with live batting practice Friday and hopes to pitch in his first Cactus League game Monday or Tuesday.

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com