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.”

 

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.

The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:

— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.

— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.

— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).

— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.

— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)

— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).

Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

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USA TODAY

If 2018 was all about 'learning experiences' for young White Sox, what did Lucas Giolito learn?

We heard a lot about "learning experiences" during the White Sox 100-loss 2018 season.

It was Rick Renteria's way of describing the to-be-anticipated growing pains for highly touted players spending their first full seasons in the major leagues. Fan expectations were high for the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Yoan Moncada, and by very few measures did those players — some of the first of the organization's bevy of prospects to reach the South Side — live up to those expectations.

But that doesn't mean that those players' seasons were devoid of value. Renteria, the White Sox and the players all expect these "learning experiences" to have long-term benefits. In other words, it's the struggles now that will help these players succeed and create the planned perennial contender on the South Side.

So if those "learning experiences" were so valuable, what did these guys learn?

Giolito finished his first full season in the bigs with a 6.13 ERA, leading baseball in earned runs allowed and leading the American League in walks. What did he take from what looked from the outside like a disappointing season?

"I think I learned the most from my worst starts this year, the ones where I didn’t make it out of the first, didn’t make it out of the second," Giolito said before the end of the White Sox season last month. "Just going out there not having the right mindset from the get go and allowing the game to speed up on me really quickly, there’s maybe two, three, four games where that happened. And obviously I came out of those games upset and frustrated, but now looking back on them from this perspective at the end of the season, I really learned the most from those.

"Entering every single start, I get roughly 32 of them a year, make sure that I’m prepared, I’m ready to pitch, my routine is set and I’m following it to a ‘T.’ And over the second half of the season, I started to put up better numbers, put up more competitive starts just through that process of earlier in the year grinding and grinding and not doing well. I learned a lot about myself in that process as a pitcher and as a competitor."

Certain numbers don't exactly show a drastic improvement from one half of the season to the other: Giolito's ERA prior to the All-Star break (6.18) and after it (6.04) were pretty much the same. He had a much improved August (3.86 ERA in six starts) and a rough September (9.27 ERA in five starts).

But again, the 2018 season wasn't about what the numbers look like now. It was about what those numbers will look like a year or two or three from now, when the White Sox make their transition from rebuilding to contending.

"You go out there and you don’t get the job done, you’re knocked out of the game early, looking back on it, it’s like, ‘Now I know what doesn’t work.’ And I’m able to make those adjustments and the changes to the routine and the changes to mindset and things to be able to go out there," Giolito said. "I’m not going to have my best stuff every day. Some days I might not feel right and might be battling myself a little bit. But it’s being able to make that quick adjustment, not letting the game speed up. That’s the biggest thing.

"At this level, you go out there and you’re not feeling right in the first inning, it might be three runs, four runs on the board before you even know it. And I think getting that experience, getting to pitch every fifth day for an entire season and having a ton of downs and starting to figure it out more toward the end, it’s gaining that experience and learning what works and learning what doesn’t."

Throughout the season, Renteria complimented Giolito for the pitcher's ability to move on from rough beginnings to starts and turn in a five- or six-outing despite the early trouble. Giolito did a good deal of that throughout the season, with longevity during starts rarely being an issue, even if the run totals were high. Only six of his 32 starts in 2018 were shorter than five innings, and the percentage of his starts that lasted six and seven innings increased from the first half of the season to the second.

And then there are the walks, and there was a significant decrease in the amount of guys Giolito was putting on base between the first and second halves of the season. He walked 60 batters in 103.1 innings in the first half for a BB/9 of 5.2, compared to 30 batters in 70 innings in the second half for a BB/9 of 3.9.

So there were positives for Giolito to take from his 2018 campaign.

"The second half of the season, bouncing back from what I was doing. Cutting down on the walks, starting to pitch better, pitch more consistently. Even games when I wasn’t sharp, I was getting hit around, not doing so well, I did a better job of at least giving the team a chance, getting a little bit deeper into the game," he said. "So I’d say those are some of the highlights, learning from the mistakes and learning from the failures and within the season being able to make the right adjustments to be more successful."

On Opening Day, Giolito talked about how different a pitcher he was more than a year after joining the White Sox organization. One full season in the big leagues, and Giolito is again a different pitcher. It's that continuing evolution that the White Sox hope will make him a mainstay in their rotation of the future.

"More experience, more mature. I’m no longer really fazed by the big situation. If I get into trouble in the first inning, I’m not worrying about it or thinking about it or how I screwed up the last at-bat, last pitch, I walked a guy, gave up a double, whatever it might be. Now, what’s in the past is in the past, even when I’m out there," he said. "If I mess up a couple pitches, I know the adjustment to make and I’m going to do my best to make that adjustment without it taking a couple innings or even never making the adjustment the entire start, which is what was happening through April, May, June.

"Just getting that experience and learning to make those adjustments on the fly. I’d say that’s what I’m really taking away from this year."