Shields working toward Minor League start

White Sox right-hander progressing well in rehab

Shields working toward Minor League start

CHICAGO -- It's been almost 11 years since White Sox right-hander James Shields took the mound in the Minor Leagues, but it will be an encouraging sign if he is able to do so this weekend as he rehabs from a right lat strain that has sidelined him since being placed on the 10-day DL on April 21.

Shields threw a 45-pitch bullpen session and got up and down three times before Chicago's series opener against Boston on Monday, optimistic that he could start a rehab assignment on Saturday.

"Felt really good, pitches were working pretty good," Shields said. "I think the plan is to possibly go out on Saturday and pitch about three or four innings. That's my guess as of right now. We'll see how it goes."

Shields has been building up his workload in anticipation of a potential rehab stint, throwing 30 pitches in a pair of bullpen outings on May 24 and 26. The right-hander said he wants to build up to about five or six innings before he feels he could be ready for a Major League return.

If Shields begins his stint with Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday, he'll run into a familiar foe -- Durham, the team he pitched for in his most recent Minor League outing in 2006 while he was first coming up with the Rays' organization.

"I'm not going to be facing them, but yeah, it's always good to see where you came from," Shields said. "I spent six years and a couple months in the Minor Leagues, so I did the whole Minor League grind. So I know how hard those guys work down there."

Shields' solid start

The recovery process has been uncharted waters for Shields -- this is the first DL stop of his pro career -- but he said he hasn't been instructed to hold back in his workouts. He said he's gone "full bore" with each bullpen outing, and that it shouldn't change if and when he takes a Minor League mound on a rehab assignment.

"I'm going to go out there and compete," Shields said. "Whether I'm rehabbing or not I'm a competitor. Try to help those guys win a couple games while I'm down there. At the end of the day, I know those kids in Spring Training and I know how hard they work, so it'll be a good experience."

Worth noting

• White Sox reliever Nate Jones threw a one-inning, 25-pitch bullpen session before Monday's series opener against the Red Sox. Jones said he worked in some sliders for the first time in his return from right elbow neuritis, which has had him on the 10-day DL since May 4. Jones said this was his fourth or fifth bullpen session, but he did not know if a rehab assignment was nearing.

"I don't like to get ahead of anything," Jones said. "Each day after I do my treatment, I just look at that piece of paper and see what it says.

"We are taking steps in the right direction and if I wasn't feeling good, I would probably not be throwing bullpen [sessions] and stuff."

• White Sox manager Rick Renteria said reliever Zach Putnam also was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday in Chicago. Putnam began throwing off the mound for the first time on May 23 after being shelved with right elbow inflammation, and he hasn't appeared in a game since April 22.

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.