Levine: Opening Day Looking Like A Long Shot For White Sox Outfielder Charlie Tilson

By Bruce Levine–

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — A chance to win the White Sox’s starting center field job appears weeks or months away for Charlie Tilson, the speedster who’s now had a setback in his recovery from a stress reaction in his right ankle earlier in camp.

Tilson suffered his ankle injury in mid-February and was shut down, rehabbing since. Recently, he “felt something” amiss, manager Rick Renteria said, and the team will continue to take a cautious approach.

“He will be re-evaluated today,” manager Rick Renteria said Monday. “He will get another MRI. Obviously, we are shutting him down. He felt something. We are going to err on the side of caution.”

The results of the MRI will determine the next type of treatment for Tilson. This latest setback is another frustrating episode for Tilson in his White Sox tenure. After being acquired in a trade from the Cardinals last July, Tilson tore his left hamstring in his first game with the White Sox in the big leagues and missed the rest of the season.

The stress reaction in his right ankle was considered common and initially a minor ordeal as part of the recovery from the hamstring tear, as many players suffer injuries to their other leg when they favor an injured one.

With Tilson out, Peter Bourjos, Leury Garcia, Adam Engel and Jacob May are vying to be the Opening Day center fielder. Tilson is likely headed for a minor league stint as he fights his way back from these leg injuries.

The White Sox certainly had high hopes for Tilson in 2017. Prior to his injury problems, he had a clear path to getting 600 at-bats and being the everyday lead-off man. The White Sox are being particularly cautious with his injuries because the legs are the lifeblood for a player like the speedy Tilson, who has 89 stolen bases in 471 career minor league games.

Both Bourjos and May were in Chicago’s lineup against Cleveland on Monday.

“We are just making sure those guys are getting enough at-bats,” Renteria said. “We are using them in different positions. We want to make sure they are qualified and ready to go for the regular season. They are playing center field (specifically) and doing very well.”

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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