White Sox outfielder Charlie Tilson ready to hit the ground running in 2017 after serious injury

White Sox outfielder Charlie Tilson ready to hit the ground running in 2017 after serious injury

Charlie Tilson is back in action this week for the White Sox just five months after he needed season-ending surgery to repair a torn left hamstring.

The White Sox rookie outfielder is a participant at the team's hitters minicamp in Glendale, Ariz. alongside top prospect Yoan Moncada and 2016 first-round pick Zack Collins, among others. Tilson's action at the three-day camp at Camelback Ranch is his first since the local-product suffered the significant injury in the middle of his major league debut on Aug. 3 in Detroit. The centerfielder had to be helped off the field after trying to run down a fly ball in the right-center field gap only a few innings after he picked up his first big league hit.

"I can’t complain," Tilson said. "The rehab process has been going good. I'm still working through it. I'm able to pretty much compete and participate in everything, but there's still some barriers I've got to break. So I'm taking it one day at a time. But I'm really confident in the timeline I've got right now and hopefully I can get out here early and make an impact for the team."

The White Sox acquired the speedy Tilson from the St. Louis Cardinals in late July in exchange for left-handed reliever Zach Duke. The team intended to give Tilson a two-month tryout to see if he was worthy of being the club's everyday centerfielder in 2017.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

At the time, Tilson was thrilled for the opportunity to start for his favorite childhood team. Though he was initially disappointed by the news, Tilson afforded himself a few days to feel bad before he determined it was time to refocus his efforts. He's hopeful that the strong desire to return the field he displayed during his rehab will have him ready for spring training. The team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.

"Obviously it was a shame getting injured in that first game, but it's part of the game," Tilson said. "It's the nature of the game and those things happen and my whole focus has been 'How can I work through this and put myself in the best position to help this team out?' I'm taking it in stride and appreciating the opportunity I had for sure. Being able to get out there in Detroit and get my first hit in front of my family, incredible experience. Memories I won't forget.

"I let myself maybe feel bad for myself for a quick moment. But you've got to collect yourself and you've got to get back on your feet.

"After that moment I just decided to put all my energy and focus towards working to get back and I'm in a pretty good spot right now."

White Sox outfielders to get another look after Charlie Tilson's injury

White Sox outfielders to get another look after Charlie Tilson's injury

DETROIT -- In the wake of Charlie Tilson’s injury, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia will get another look in center and right field, respectively.

A Gold Glove candidate in right field this season, Eaton has rebounded from a poor 2015 defensive campaign. Earlier this season, Eaton, who said he still considered himself a center fielder, accepted a position switch when the club signed Austin Jackson to do what was best for the White Sox. With Tilson gone for the season with a torn left hamstring, Eaton will move back to center to aid the White Sox.

“Wherever they put me I’ll do the best I can,” Eaton said. “Accept the challenge to get back in center and hopefully make the best of it. Part of the job, you move around and you have to make the most of it and do the best you can.”

Eaton leads all major leaguers with 21 Defensive Runs Saved, according to fangraphs.com. He also leads all outfielders with 16 assists and has been spectacular in right field. It’s a vast improvement from last season, when Eaton, who played with an injured left shoulder, was valued at minus-14 DRS.

“I feel like I didn’t play very good center field last year,” Eaton said. “There is a lot more layers to center field but it’s like riding a bike, I’ll be back out there and enjoying it as well. There is freedom out there, room to run and being in charge of two guys and the responsibility is great. I enjoy that as well. I’ll make the adjustment.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

White Sox manager Robin Ventura hopes Garcia continues to adjust at the plate and get more loft on his swings. The outfielder crushed a pair of homers late in Tuesday’s loss, the fourth multi-homer game of his career. Garcia’s homers, both off right-handed pitchers, were pulled to left field and beyond. They traveled an estimated 426 and 459 feet. Garcia has hit three of his eight homers in the past two weeks.

“He hasn’t been able to elevate lately or even this year to the point he has in the last five days,” Ventura said. “He’s making adjustments, but his hands work better. His contact is harder and more direct. It just looks good.

“You’re hoping for the best.”

The White Sox also recalled J.B. Shuck from Triple-A Charlotte after they placed Tilson on the disabled list. Tilson will have surgery on Thursday.

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson tears hamstring, set for season-ending surgery

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson tears hamstring, set for season-ending surgery

DETROIT -- If you saw the replay, the news Wednesday that Charlie Tilson is out for the season with a torn left hamstring shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The White Sox placed their rookie outfielder on the disabled list and announced he’s set to have season-ending surgery on his hamstring on Thursday. Tilson injured himself Tuesday in an attempt to run down a fly ball in the fifth inning of his major league debut. He became the fourth White Sox rookie to suffer a major injury on or before his first game this season. The White Sox recalled J.B. Shuck from Triple-A Charlotte to take Tilson’s spot.

“I can’t even imagine,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “This is a dream. He gets called up, gets a hit in his first at-bat and after that it all gets taken away from you for a while. It’s tough. All the guys on the team, as much as you want to put it out of your mind, you feel for the kid.”

Acquired on Sunday, the New Trier High School product and former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand barely hand a chance to meet his new teammates. He arrived in Detroit on Tuesday and met the team on the bus from the hotel.

Tilson’s debut was off to a fantastic start on Tuesday night as he singled in his first at-bat in the third inning and shared a conversation at the bag with Miguel Cabrera, who handed him the ball from his base hit. Seated behind home plate, Tilson’s family roared in delight.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Two innings later, Tilson was sprawled across the outfield grass after his leg buckled in pursuit of Cabrera’s drive to right center. Adam Eaton was the first one over to Tilson and immediately had a sense his injury was serious.

“You could tell he was kind of in shock with what just happened,” Eaton said. “Tough go for him. It’s not how you pictured your debut to go. By the same token, he left us with a good impression. He ran really well, got the hit there in his first at-bat. Hopefully he can heal up and be ready for spring training.”

The White Sox should have more information on how long Tilson will be out later in the week.

Ventura is hopeful Tilson will be back for spring training. But he didn’t know much beyond the next two months.

“He’s got enough tears in it that he’s going to have surgery, so the chances of us having him back this year aren’t going to happen,” Ventura said. “It’s crazy, it’s unfortunate. You feel for the kid that he gets an opportunity to come up here and something like that happens.”