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.”

 

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.