By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite coming off a 3-7 road trip, the news isn’t all doom and gloom for the Chicago White Sox. Veteran right-hander James Shields appears to be headed back to the mound soon after being out since April 18.
Shields, who had a fast start to the season with a 1-0 record and 1.62 ERA, is progressing nicely from a right lat strain. He threw a side session of 30 pitches without any negative effects Friday.
Shields will throw a 50- to 60-pitch simulated bullpen session Monday, and he said the plan calls for him to get up and sit down three times as he would in a game.
Shields will go out on a rehab stint to build arm strength. Realistically, if everything goes well, it should take two to three minor-league outings to get back to the White Sox starting rotation.
“I went full bore today,” Shields said about his side session. “Everything went well and feels great. I am ready to rock and roll.”
The 35-year-old Shields had never been on the disabled list in his 12-year career before this recent injury.
“Obviously, it has been pretty tough for me,” he said. “I am pretty anxious. I want to be out there and help my team win. At the end of the day, I have to stick to the process. We were doing pretty good until this last road trip. We need to pick it up. I am looking forward to coming back and helping this squad out.”
Shields is under team control through 2019, with a $16 million team option waiting in that final year. Shields is making $21 million this season and $21 million in 2018, but the Padres, his former team, are picking up $11 million in each of those two years.
Shields still projects near the top of the White Sox rotation when he’s healthy, despite a horrendous 6-19 record and a 5.85 ERA in 2016.
“We have had a lot of injuries,” Shields said about the White Sox having three starters and three relievers on the DL. “We have to overcome that. It is not just about 25 guys to win championships. It takes a lot of other guys to get the job done. Hopefully, we will pick it up this home series.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.