1. The White Sox entered Spring Training with very few questions regarding what the 25-man roster was likely to look like on Opening Day. Now, after the release of Brett Lawrie a few weeks ago and Sunday’s news that Charlie Tilson has suffered a setback as he attempted to recover from a stress reaction in his foot suffered a few weeks ago, things are a bit less certain.
Tilson came into camp the presumptive center fielder, and while his injury isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the win-loss projections for the White Sox, it’s frustrating for two specific reasons. Tilson, who went to nearby New Trier High School, was given an opportunity he might not have been afforded in another organization with more established outfielders or with an eye toward contention. We don’t know if this was the case, but one could envision a scenario where Tilson was so eager to prove himself and that he belonged in this role the White Sox saw him taking that he was rushing his recovery. When you’re so close to your dream, the short-term goal of trying to ensure it isn’t taken from you often outweighs the risks involved.
From a team perspective, sure, Tilson’s injury isn’t likely to have much of an impact on how many games the White Sox win in 2017. But Tilson, along with the likes of Omar Narvaez and Matt Davidson, offers an unknown element that is worth keeping an eye on throughout the season. The continued progression of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon is important, sure. As is the trade value of the number of veterans who may be on their way out. But the opportunity to see the unknown commodities get an extended look was always going to be one of the more important things to watch for this season.
If Tilson is out for an extended period of time — and at this point, until we hear otherwise that’s what I’m going to assume — one can reasonably assume the starting center fielder job will be handed to Peter Bourjos and his career 89 OPS+. Bourjos has a sterling defensive reputation and will need to live up to that while presumably sandwiched between Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia, but two weeks from his 30th birthday, offers absolutely zero in the form of promise or relevance to the next good White Sox team.
From a roster building perspective, if Tilson starts the season on the disabled list it does create another decision that will have to be made. The White Sox don’t have another super obvious center fielder candidate on the roster behind Bourjos — who would still need to be added to the 40-man roster — making someone like Leury Garcia, who does have center field experience, more likely to make the roster over someone like Yolmer Sanchez.
2. It’s difficult to overstate how damn cool it was to see Jose Quintana in the national spotlight after cruising through 5 2/3 no-hit innings in the World Baseball Classic Saturday.
The fact that Colombia ultimately lost the game to the United States befit something we’ve come to expect out of Quintana — completely dominate and end with a loss or no decision — and despite the fact that Quintana and Colombia were unable to advance past the first round, he clearly made an impression.
“This could be one of his best games in professional baseball, not only for his value, because he was representing his country, but what he did with his pitching,” said Colombia manager Luis Urueta.
“The only way to focus was to feel the country behind me clapping for me, and with a big dream such as tonight, that’s what gave me the desire to try to keep the game close,” said Quintana.
3. The White Sox had one of the more bizarre days of Spring Training one can think of on Sunday. In a day-night split-squad doubleheader, the White Sox scored eight runs or more in an inning in both of them. During the early game, a 10-8 loss to the Rangers, the Sox put up all eight of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. And in the night cap, they trailed 3-1 entering the ninth inning against the Dodgers and scored 14 runs in the top of the ninth, batting around twice, and ultimately won 15-5. Good lord.
4. The White Sox made their first cuts of Spring Training on Friday. None were particularly surprising, but the headliner was Zack Collins, who went 3-for-8 with a double, two walks, three strikeouts, and — surprisingly — two stolen bases in his limited action. Rick Renteria told reports he liked what he saw out of Collins in his brief time with the major league club.
“He got here, was real comfortable with the pitchers right out of the chute,” Renteria said. “He started receiving a little easier. … Good position behind the plate, was sticking a lot of pitches during the game he was playing in. He was standing in the box with a lot of comfort. He’s a very confident hitter. I thought he handled game-calling pretty well too.”
The other players reassigned were Courtney Hawkins, Spencer Adams, David Holmberg, and Brian Clark.
5. Michael Kopech made his second start of the spring in the aforementioned Sunday split against the Rangers. Three pitches into the start, he was trailing 1-0 after a single, stolen base, error on said stolen base, and RBI double. But he settled down, finishing that inning by striking out the side and wound up going 3 innings, giving up three hits, one run, and striking out four.
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