The White Sox received some bad news today, learning that presumptive starting center fielder Charlie Tilson has been placed in a walking boot and will start the season on the disabled list. This is bad news for everyone not named Peter Bourjos. Tilson wasn’t likely to be an All-Star by any means, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him being a useful enough starting center fielder on a rebuilding team that can afford to give him enough playing time to see if he can reach his ceiling. But that’s seeming less and less likely to happen with every passing day.
Speed is the name of Tilson’s game. He only managed four home runs last season in 100 games in the absurdly hitter-friendly PCL. For him to be worth anything, he needs to be able to run like a young Scott Podsednik or else he will be lucky to look like an old Scott Podsednik. Tilson tearing his hamstring in his first game with the Sox last year was incredibly bad luck and it looks like he’s yet to fully recover from it.
When news of the stress reaction in his foot broke (apologies for the pun) earlier in spring training, I was reminded of a condition in race horses called catastrophic breakdown. The basic gist of it is that one of the numerous small bones in a horse’s leg breaks or is weakened, resulting in increased strain on the rest of the legs ultimately ending in broken legs that will never be able to heal. Think of Jake Peavy’s torn lat coming from his altered mechanics after spraining his ankle. Think of Brett Lawrie’s entire existence up to this point.
The team fully shutting Tilson down at this point is the best possible thing for Tilson’s health and career at this point, but it’s not painting the prettiest picture for the rest of his career. Stress reactions can rapidly become stress fractures, turning plus speed into mediocrity with alarming quickness. Tilson’s life as a baseball player isn’t quite in its third act just yet, but it’s closer to being there than it was a month ago.
Lead Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports