James Shields' strained right lat created the second hole the White Sox have to fill in their rotation this year, with the right-hander being placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday evening. But as was the case with Carlos Rodon's left biceps bursitis, Rick Hahn and the front office won't accelerate or disrupt the development of the organization's trio of highly regarded pitching Triple-A prospects to temporarily take the place of someone at the major league level.
So instead of seeing Carson Fulmer come up, or Reynaldo Lopez or Lucas Giolito make their White Sox debuts, it'll be 33-year-old right-hander Mike Pelfrey filling Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.
"From the start, we talked about when these guys do get to Chicago for that last stage of development that happens in the big leagues, we want them to feel comfortable they will get the ball every fifth day," Hahn said. "It's not going to be snatched away from them because someone is coming off the DL or their performance isn't up to snuff in any individual start. That's the ideal path.
"You can't always follow through on those plans in the end, but right now, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure when any of the prospects get promoted, they will be here to stay."
Fulmer (17 IP, 4.24 ERA, 11 K, 3 BB, 3 HR), Lopez (14 1/3 IP, 5.02 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB, 4 HR) and Giolito (14 IP, 6.43 ERA, 16 K, 9 BB, 3 HR) haven't got off to particularly strong starts, though none of them could've pitched their way back into the major leagues after only three starts. The White Sox will be patient with all three right-handers to make sure that, if and when they do earn their way to 35th and Shields, they're here for good and don't have to go back to the minor leagues.
While the White Sox did consider promoting right-hander Tyler Danish, who has a 2.00 ERA in three Triple-A starts, he threw six innings Thursday and wouldn't have been able to take Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday. Pelfrey, then, offers the smoothest transition to replacing a guy in Shields who had a 1.62 ERA in his first three starts of 2017.
To make room for Pelfrey on the 40-man roster, outfielder Charlie Tilson will be moved to the 60-day disabled list, Hahn said. Tilson, who's been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since February, will be out of a walking boot on Monday but wouldn't be ready to re-join the White Sox for at least another month.
The White Sox described Shields' lat strain as "mild" and expect he'll only miss two or three starts due to it.
"There's no reason for me to believe right now that he won't be able to pick up where he left off once he comes off the DL here in a couple of weeks," Hahn said.