White Sox

After whirlwind, Charlie Tilson ready for MLB debut with White Sox

After whirlwind, Charlie Tilson ready for MLB debut with White Sox

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.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

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.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.