DETROIT -- He had just been traded to the team for which he grew up rooting, his phone buzzed endlessly with texts from well-wishers and Charlie Tilson couldn’t respond.
The rookie outfielder said Tuesday that he could still receive calls on Sunday morning, such as the one from St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak that he had been traded home to the White Sox.
But because his iPhone wasn’t working properly, Tilson said he couldn’t respond to friends and family blowing him up about the biggest news of his life. Tilson -- who joined the White Sox and made his major league debut on Tuesday night -- opted to rectify the problem Sunday before he flew home from Texas to Tennessee to pack his apartment.
“I could really only take phone calls,” Tilson said. “I couldn’t respond to text messages.
“I got in an Uber and he was going to take me to the airport and he took me around and found an iFixit store. I got my phone fixed and got back to as many people as I could. One of those times where I could reach out to everyone I could and I’m thankful for everyone who reached out to me.
“It’s just an incredible time and I’m super excited.”
The hustle to fix his phone isn’t out of character for Tilson, whose scouting report sounds similar to Adam Eaton’s give or take a few details. A contact hitter who isn’t expected to hit for much power, Tilson’s appeal is in part because he plays with high energy.
“Nothing will ever happen for lack of effort,” Tilson said. “I’m a big hustle guy. Speed is my biggest asset for sure. I like to go get it on defense and make an impact there. I like to move around on the bases and just get on base and there are some incredible hitters on this team -- just be out there for them and give them an opportunity to drive in runs.”
Tilson, who went to New Trier High School in Winnetka and grew up a huge fan of Scott Podsednik, should have plenty of chances to show the White Sox what he’s about over the final two months of the season. Within seconds of their meeting, White Sox manager Robin Ventura informed Tilson he would start in center field and hit eighth. The hope is that Tilson can hit and field enough to become an everyday option for next season.
“We’re going to find out,” Ventura said. “We know he can go get it. That helps us as far as getting a center fielder who can cover some ground. Swinging it from the left side is going to help us as well. We’re going to find out. That’s the biggest thing is he’s going to have an opportunity to play out there and we’ll get a better idea of it as we go along.”
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Tilson is in awe of the opportunity.
A second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2011, he never imagined he’d have the chance to return home to play. His parents, four siblings and a handful of friends made the trip to Detroit for Tuesday’s series opener.
Tilson admitted he was a little nervous about Tuesday’s game. But he’d had the chance to meet his new teammates and was starting to acclimate. Even though everything happened all so fast, Tilson knew to catch his breath and take it all in.
“It’s crazy,” Tilson said. “Just thinking back, I grew up going to a ton of games. I used to watch Scott Podsednik and hang out in the Fundamental Zone. To do that and be here and have this opportunity, I feel so lucky, I feel so fortunate. I’m so excited to get going.”