By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — After an abysmal right-hander James Shields had an abysmal 2016, the White Sox are hoping he has something left in the tank.READ MORE: FBI Seeking Public's Help Finding Devontay Anderson; Feds Say Third Suspect Charged In Killing Of Jaslyn Adams Fled State To Avoid Prosecution
Joining the White Sox in a trade last June, Shields didn’t live up to his “Big Game James” nickname last season in registering a 5.85 ERA that was the worst of any qualified starting pitchers in the big leagues. Shields’ 19 losses were also tied for the most in baseball in what was a train wreck of a season for an accomplished pitcher. Now, the 35-year-old Shields is intent on regaining a better form, even if it’s not realistic to reach the heights he once achieved.
His focus for the time being is to stay positive mentally as he competes in the Cactus League.
“I wasn’t very good,” Shields said of 2016. “I think my delivery was out of whack. My ball was flat. For the most part, I was up in the zone. We addressed that at the end of the season. We are now moving forward.”READ MORE: Family Of 12-Year-Old Erica Gibson Says Girl Who Accidentally Shot Her Dead In Hazel Crest Had Earlier Posed With Long Gun In Social Media Video
Shields made his first spring training start Wednesday, allowing one run on two hits in two innings while striking out two and walking none. Shields knows the downhill plane of his pitches must improve to keep balls from sailing out of the park like they did in 2016, when Shields allowed 40 homers.
“The best thing a player can have is amnesia,” Shields said. “I am not worried about last season. I just concentrate on right now and on the work I am doing now. Hopefully we will move forward and progress as we go.”
Despite his struggles, Shields is the most accomplished pitcher on the White Sox’s staff. He’s looked at as a leader by the younger staff members, including 20-year-old prospect Michael Kopech.
“He is a really good kid,” Shields said. “He works really, really hard. The thing I like is he wants to learn. His attitude is great. He obviously has electric stuff.”MORE NEWS: 'I Was Completely Unaware': Brookfield Homeowner On Apartment Complex Looming Large Over Her House, Obstructing Views
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.