DETROIT – Not again!
When center fielder Charlie Tilson went down in a heap on the outfield grass with a strained left hamstring and a possible left knee injury in the White Sox 11-5 loss to the Tigers Tuesday, he became the third White Sox to leave the game during or his major league debut this season. Another, catcher Kevan Smith, wrenched his back during pregame warmups and never got on the field.
Mothers, don’t let your sons grow up to be White Sox rookies. You can’t make this stuff up.
Tilson, a AAA minor leaguer from New Trier High School acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals Sunday for veteran left-hander Zach Duke, appeared at first glance to extend his left knee and turn his left ankle running to the gap in deep right center in pursuit of Miguel Cabrera’s double during the Tigers’ six-run fifth inning against James Shields. On a previous play, Tilson had held up momentarily chasing Andrew Romine’s drive over his head, the ball landing for a triple. On the play in which he was hurt, he went hard all the way but got twisted up in pursuit.
“You feel for the kid,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s crazy we’ve had four guys making their debut and get taken off the field. It’s a little out there.’’
Tilson was helped off the field by Ventura and trainer Herm Schneider, who had to scratch Smith before a game in Toronto in April, saw left fielder Jason Coats cut his lip and was dazed colliding with center fielder J.B. Shuck on June 4 in Detroit and Matt Davidson fracture his right foot running the bases against the Twins June 30 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Tilson singled in his first at-bat against Anibal Sanchez and grounded into a fielder’s choice his second time up. With his family cheering in the stands behind the Sox dugout on the first-base side, Tilson was handed the ball from Cabrera, the Tigers first baseman.
Before the game he talked about the thrill of being traded to the Sox, his childhood favorite team, and then getting called up to make his debut Tuesday. He had spent this season in AAA.
“It took me a little while to catch my breath,’’ Tilson said, summarizing the chain of events leading up to his major league debut.
Tilson made two calls home to his parents, who with his four siblings and friends were at Comerica Park. The second was to say he was going to the majors, and to avoid waking his roommate he said he made a call from the bathroom and asked his dad to turn on his speaker phone so all could hear.
“My voice was shaking,’’ he said.
“It was unbelievable, something you think about your entire life and to be able to come back home and play for the team I rooted for growing up, I feel so fortunate. And I just want to get after it, I want to make a difference, I want to make an impact for this club.’’
All of this had the makings of a happy story on what has been a sad season for the Sox, but a few hours later, Tilson was in the trainer’s room.
“We’ll know in the morning,’’ Ventura said.
“He complained a little bit about his hamstring, might be a knee.
“It’s a little out there to think it’s happened that many times. Good kids, they’re all just playing hard.’’
Avisail Garcia hit two homers, including a 465-foot shot against Mark Lowe in the ninth, but it couldn’t prevent his former team from winning its seventh straight game.
The Sox, meanwhile, lost their fifth in six games and 13th in the last 19 and may have to bring J.B. Shuck back up after he was demoted to make room for Tilson.