Should White Sox Fans Get ready for Peter Bourjos in Center Field?

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Jul 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos (17) runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos (17) runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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White Sox lack of outfield depth exposed with latest injury to center fielder. Can newly acquired veteran become starting center fielder?

With Charlie Tilson suffering a stress reaction in his right foot already, should Chicago White Sox fans prepare to see a lot of Peter Bourjos at Guaranteed Rate Field in 2017? Given reports are stating that Tilson should be back well before Opening Day, keep in mind who we are dealing with. Since he has dealt with the injury bug throughout his pro career, are a lot of rehab stints likely for Tilson this season?

Bourjos is a player who has elite range in center field (ZR under 10 in 6 of 7 MLB seasons), however he is no different than Tilson in one respect: injuries. He has only appeared in 140 games once in his career (2011), while failing to play in 125 every season since then. Even though he possesses great speed, it does not translate into stolen bases. Bourjos’ career high in that category is 22, which took place in the aforementioned 2011.

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In other words, the Sox are heading into 2017 with two injury riddled options in center field to start the season. However, just by looking at past performance Bourjos is the better of the two. Sure Tilson has very good speed, but a he has only played one game at the big league level. In the case that the Sox pitching does struggle, which it will at times, it is going to help tremendously to have a rangy defender backing him up in the outfield.

One issue that could crop up even though the Sox are rebuilding this year, would be neither staying healthy. Assuming they have to rush Jacob May or Adam Engel to the big leagues, it would start their arbitration clock which is something they don’t want to do. Thankfully they do have other options such as Leury Garcia and Rymer Liriano, however they don’t want to delve that far into their depth chart.

Given the above is a just worst case scenario, but due to Tilson and Bourjos’ injury history it very easily could occur. Another concern would be other position players being injured at the same time, leading to the Sox promoting a player they don’t want to, or someone who has no business in the major leagues to begin with.

Next: White Sox Confident in Group of Catchers

Overall, center field is going to be a weak spot for the Sox in 2017. It is quite possible that several players will see significant playing time in that spot, due to the injury history and level of talent that will man the position. While a trade could be made to bring a talented player in, don’t expect All-Star play for the first half of the season.

Expect a lot of different players in center field for the South Siders this year. And most of them to perform at a subpar level.

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