Dioner Navarro caught James Shields in 586 innings for the Rays, and he wondered Sunday if the right-hander known for his competitiveness might benefit from moving to a White Sox team that expects a little more to be on the line this season.
Shields went 15-14 with a 4.00 ERA in 44 starts with the Padres, including a 4.28 ERA to start this season as they stumbled to a 23-35 record through Sunday.
After Saturday’s trade, he will make his Sox debut Wednesday against the Nationals, joining a team that despite its lengthy slump remains in the thick of a tight American League Central race.
“I think he is well-suited to a team that’s in the middle of everything,” Navarro said. “He earned his nickname (“Big Game James”) by pitching great in big games. Sometimes people just need a change of scenery. What happened was in the past. Hopefully Chicago will suit him well.”
Shields, 34, brings to Chicago a lengthy playoff resume, something no other Sox starting pitcher owns. He has made 11 postseason starts, including one in the 2008 World Series with the Rays and two in the 2014 World Series with the Royals, though his 3-6 record and 5.46 ERA in the playoffs leave something to be desired.
Mat Latos is the only other member of the rotation with playoff experience, two appearances in the 2012 National League Division Series with the Reds.
“This guy is a gamer,” Navarro said. “He’s been around a long time. He knows what it takes, and it’s good to add another veteran arm to be around the guys and, not teach them, but kind of guide them through a little bit.”
Several Sox players were interested Sunday to see what their new teammate can bring to a team in need of a shake-up after losing 18 of 24 games.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who managed Shields with the Rays, said Saturday that Shields’ competitiveness is so “off the charts” that “he thinks he can beat anybody.” Right fielder Adam Eaton said the Sox could use some of that confidence.
“He definitely has an ego about him on the mound that we need in this clubhouse,” Eaton said. “That’s only going to help us win. It’s good to see management want to make a push here and bring in a guy that’s going to bring some fire to the team. Hopefully we can get out of this funk we’re in and propel us back to where we were for the first month of the season.”
General manager Rick Hahn noted the Sox aren’t expecting a Cy Young season from Shields but are hoping for a solid third or fourth starter who can save the bullpen from overuse.
Navarro and fellow catcher Alex Avila said adding a pitcher with nine straight seasons of 200-plus innings could be big.
“His track record has proved he can pitch deep into games and give you quality innings and quality starts, and that’s very important over the course of the season,” Avila said. “As a catcher, that’s what you always strive for your pitcher is that quality start. Anything more is icing on the cake.”
This article was written by Colleen Kane from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.