GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox want James Shields to erase last season from his memory and start anew in 2017.
The veteran starting pitcher took the first steps toward the regular season on Wednesday afternoon when he allowed a run and two hits in two innings in his spring debut.
Despite later losing Nate Jones to a bruised knee, the White Sox rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch. Jones, who leaves to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic next week, is day to day after he took a comebacker off his right knee in the sixth inning.
“I guess one of the best attributes for a baseball player is to have amnesia,” Shields said. “But I’m not really worried about last season. I’m focused on right now and the work I put in this offseason, the work I’m putting in during spring training now. So far I feel really good, and hopefully we’ll move forward and progress as we go.”
Shields’ struggles in 2016 were well documented. He went 4-12 with a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts for the White Sox after he arrived in June 4 trade from the San Diego Padres. Included in that run was a 21.82 ERA over Shields’ first three starts. Shields allowed 40 home runs on the season between San Diego and Chicago.
The White Sox are hoping for better production from Shields, to whom they owe $22 million through 2018. The Padres are on the hook for the remaining $22 million on a deal Shields signed before the 2015 season.
“This is a fresh start,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I don’t think it’s changing any other thing than it’s a new year. He’s obviously a gentleman that’s been in the game quite a while. He’s had some really good success over his career and I think he just wants to go out there and be himself again, try to just command the zone as he has in the past, be able to sequence his pitches and execute.”
Shields hit 91 mph on the radar gun and sat between 88-90 in a perfect first inning. He struck out two batters and walked none.
Jones had recorded two outs in the seventh inning before he took a one-hopper off his right knee and immediately limped toward the dugout. The right-hander was attended to for several minutes in the dugout by athletic trainer Brian Ball before he headed to the clubhouse. Jones’ gait was visibly improved as he walked off the field.
Closer David Robertson allowed a run in his lone inning for the White Sox. Cory Luebke struck out three in two scoreless innings. Downers Grove-product Zack Burdi struck out two and didn’t allow a run in his inning while Jake Petricka pitched a scoreless sixth.
Nick Delmonico homered and singled in two trips. Courtney Hawkins also drove in two runs and singled twice, including once to setup the game-winning rally. Leury Garcia singled in the winning run.