Fields took the place of Joe Crede, as Chicago's everyday third baseman was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to July 22) with back lumbar inflammation. Crede was scratched from the starting lineup prior to Tuesday's home contest against the Rangers and sat out Wednesday's series finale with tightness in his back.
On Wednesday morning, Crede said his back felt better than the night before, but as a precautionary measure, Crede had a cortisone shot on Thursday's off-day to calm down the inflammation. Playing any or all of the four games on the turf of the Metrodome next week could cause the problem to flare up again.
"There's kind of some soreness back there more than anything," Crede said. "The one thing that's encouraging above everything else is that it's not similar to what I was feeling when I had the surgery last year.
"Nothing is structurally damaged or anything. That was a good sign, but at the same time, there is some inflammation back there, some soreness. So, I went in and got the cortisone to calm it down. Now we'll just have some time to let it calm down, rest it right now."
Playing third base for the White Sox and hitting eighth in their potent lineup is where the 25-year-old Fields expected to be from the start of the 2008 campaign. Fields took over for Crede following his season-ending back surgery in 2007 and belted 23 home runs to go with 67 RBIs over just 100 games.
Despite Crede's return, Fields heard talk throughout his spring stint in Arizona about how the incumbent third baseman would be traded because of his impending free agency. When the White Sox broke camp, however, Fields was headed to Triple-A Charlotte, and Crede was back at third.
Frustration got the best of Fields at the outset of his time with the Knights, and he also battled through tendinitis in his right knee that was exacerbated by a couple of home-plate collisions. After going through a different sort of treatment known as PRP (platelet-rich plasma) in Vail, Colo., Fields feels great physically.
His mental improvement came along a little more gradually.
"Of course, when I went down in Spring Training, I was very frustrated and kind of upset," said Fields, who was batting .248 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs in 59 games for Charlotte. "I guess you go down to the team you're supposed to go to and struggle for a few weeks until you're finally [saying], 'This is ridiculous. It's time to get over it.'
"You got to have pride in yourself to get over it, and struggling and being depressed isn't going to get me back over there -- especially even if they said beforehand that you deserve to be there. If you go down and are playing like I began to play at the beginning of the season, I wouldn't be going anywhere, regardless of what was happening.
"It's getting to that point where you struggle and you got to go out and play and enjoy playing," Fields added. "I enjoyed playing with the guys I was playing with down there. They helped me out a lot. "
The White Sox didn't have much to play for during most of Fields' time with the team in 2007. The scenario is quite different in 2008, and Fields understands he has to do whatever he can to help keep the White Sox atop the American League Central. It looks as if he will be the man at the hot corner, barring some sort of surprise deal in the next week.
And the South Siders' push for the postseason makes the extended absence that much more difficult for Crede, especially with seven games coming up against two prime contenders.
"It's frustrating," Crede said. "I didn't want to go on the DL for it, but I'll take advantage of this time off, let it heal itself together and move on. It's just one of those things where it just wasn't going away. It was still there when I woke up yesterday.
"I can already see that after [the shot], it's already starting to feel better. The biggest thing is being healthy down the stretch the final two months."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.