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.
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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.
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.”