White Sox

Rookie Charlie Tilson injured in debut, White Sox lose to Tigers

Rookie Charlie Tilson injured in debut, White Sox lose to Tigers

DETROIT -- The White Sox rookie player curse is looking pretty real.

For the fourth time this season, a first-year White Sox position player suffered an injury on or before the same day of their club debut.

On Tuesday night, rookie outfielder Charlie Tilson exited his major league debut when he suffered a left hamstring strain in pursuit of a fly ball. The White Sox lost to the Detroit Tigers 11-5 in front of 30,316 at Comerica Park and dropped to 51-55.

Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Tilson, who singled in his first at-bat, will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, the club said. Tilson suffered the injury while chasing Miguel Cabrera’s drive to right center that resulted in a run-scoring double off pitcher James Shields. Shields allowed six earned runs and nine hits in five innings. White Sox manager Robin Ventura acknowledged the injury could include more than the hamstring and said the team would have more information on Wednesday.

“You feel for the kid just like the other ones that have come up,” Ventura said. “It’s crazy that we’ve had four guys come up and make their debut and end up getting taken off the field.

“It’s a little out there to think it has happened that many times. Good kids. They’re just playing hard. You look back over all of them, it’s some freak injuries.”

The injury is the latest blow for a team that is ill-prepared to handle the horrendous run of bad luck it has experienced this season.

With the farm system thinned out by a combination of poor drafts, no international signings for five seasons and several recent large trades, the White Sox spent the final part of the offseason adding depth pieces like Jimmy Rollins and Austin Jackson in order to fill out the roster. But it was widely known the White Sox were short on depth and could be in trouble if they suffered a rash of injuries.

So of course they have.

Hurt initially by the abrupt retirement of Adam LaRoche, the White Sox have since lost a number of key contributors. Jackson, catcher Alex Avila and relievers Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Daniel Webb all have missed significant time.

Avila’s hamstring injury in April, one which he suffered again in July and currently has him on the disabled list, led to the promotion of rookie Kevan Smith. Set to make his major league debut, Smith injured his back during pregame stretch on April 25 and had to be scratched from the lineup. With the exception of one Triple-A contest in May, Smith stayed on the DL until July. He has since returned to the Triple-A Charlotte lineup.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Coats joined the team in early June after Jackson was sidelined for six games. He made his major league debut at Comerica Park on June 4 and drew a walk and was hit by a pitch in three trips. But Coats and J.B. Shuck also collided in the outfield, forcing the rookie to exit the game in the bottom of the seventh inning in case of a potential concussion.

Coats did return to the lineup the next day.

Davidson was the next to go down.

Promoted after several tough seasons at Charlotte, Davidson, who still qualifies as a rookie even though he made his MLB debut with Arizona in 2013, looked to get the shot he longed for when the White Sox first acquired him. With Avisail Garcia struggling, the White Sox promoted Davidson with the potential for opportunity as the club’s designated hitter. Davidson singled in his second at-bat, but fractured his foot while running the bases in the fourth inning. The injury resulted in surgery that required a pin to be put in Davidson’s foot. He’s still on the 60-day disabled list and the team isn’t sure if he’ll be able to return in 2016.

The White Sox hoped to spend the next two months evaluating Tilson and his ability to play center field after they acquired him for reliever Zach Duke.

A local athlete who grew up rooting for the team, Tilson joined the White Sox in Michigan on Tuesday. Manager Robin Ventura immediately informed Tilson he would start in center field and bat eighth. Still in search of a long-term answer in center field, the White Sox hoped Tilson could fill the void and keep Adam Eaton in right field, where he has played Gold Glove caliber defense all season.

[RELATED: White Sox OF Charlie Tilson leaves game with left hamstring injury]

A second-round draft pick in 2011, Tilson has the speed to track down balls in the gap and is a good contact hitter. The New Trier High School product singled to start the third inning in his first at-bat, which brought cheers from his family, who had made the trip. But two innings later, Tilson went down hard as he pursued Cabrera’s ball in the gap in right center. Eaton retrieved the ball and threw it back in and immediately signaled for the training staff. After he stayed down on the ground for several minutes, Tilson was helped off the field by trainer Herm Schneider and Ventura.

The team’s only rookie position players to have escaped injuries in their debuts this season are shortstop Tim Anderson and catcher Omar Narvaez.

“I don’t know what you would call that, man,” second baseman Tyler Saladino said. “That’s just bad luck.”

“It’s messed up. I thought about (Coats) before the game when the anthem was going on just because it’s a flash back and it’s in your head. I thought (Tilson) dove for it initially. But it was an early dive and he was just laying there.”

 

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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.