White Sox: Injury Issues Start Early Before Season Begins For South Siders

Aug 2, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson (24) dives back to first in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson (24) dives back to first in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Injury issues have arisen early for the White Sox. With the season starting soon, how will injuries affect the team for 2017?

The Chicago White Sox will begin regular season play on Monday but they are already heading into the 2017 campaign with a couple of key players on the disabled list. Last season, injuries – among other reasons – played a major role in the losing year for the South Siders. Many important and starting players were forced to miss extended periods of time. This forced manager Robin Ventura to experiment and shuffle around many moving parts.

Starting pitchers Carlos Rodon (sprained wrist) and Miguel Gonzalez (strained groin) were forced to miss time on the disabled list. Second baseman Brett Lawrie (strained left hamstring) and outfielder Avisail Garcia (sprained right knee) were also both placed on the disabled list, Lawrie was eventually shut down for the rest of the season in July.

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Even the newcomers had a rough time staying healthy. In a freaky sequence of events, outfielder Charlie Tilson (torn left hamstring), third baseman Matt Davidson (fractured right foot), and Kevan Smith (back spasms) were all injured during or prior to their White Sox debuts. Tilson’s and Davidson’s seasons were actually cut short due to their injuries.

So with the new season rapidly approaching, the White Sox are hoping for a healthier year in 2017. That has unfortunately not been the case with the start of the season two days away.

Lawrie was coming off a season in which he played only 92 games at the beginning of Spring Training. He was ruled out for the season in September after being placed on the DL in late July for a strained hamstring. This year, he was already forced to sit out a few more games with persistent leg and lower back issues. He was then released by the White Sox in early March. His last game played for the Sox was on July 21.

Third baseman slugger Todd Frazier had two injuries this Spring that kept him out of the lineup. A sprained finger that he said lingered from 2016 and a strained oblique that sidelined him for the first two weeks of Spring Training games and activities. He should be ready to go on Opening Day.

Tilson and Davidson returned to join the Sox in Spring Training after recovering from their injuries, but Davidson was the only one of the two to have a decent preseason. Tilson did not have any part of his preseason. Again, unfortunately Tilson was sidelined with a stress reaction in his right foot. Tilson was forced to sit out during Spring Training and then news broke that he would have to remain in a walking boot for at least a few more weeks.

As heartbreaking as the news was for Tilson that he wouldn’t play, perhaps more disheartening was the fact the center field position had finally opened with Adam Eaton out of the picture. Manager Rick Renteria was then forced to make a decision on who will get the starting and backup spots in center field.

While one door closed for the rookie outfielder, another opened for minor leaguer Jacob May, who won the spot that Tilson was considered for. May has played four seasons in the minor leagues but he’s had a tremendous Spring. In 27 games, he hit .330, with two doubles, three triples, four stolen bases and a team-high 22 hits.

The biggest injury heading into the season does not have a clear-cut backup plan in the shape of Jacob May. In his latest injury woes, Rodon was diagnosed with bursitis in his left bicep tendon, which is essentially inflammation. It’s a little concerning because of what was expected of Rodon this season, but upon a second opinion, tests revealed that there is no structural damage. The bad news is Rodon will have to start the season on the disabled list.

He was set to be either the third or fourth starter in the rotation, behind All-Star Jose Quintana and former All-Star James Shields. Derek Holland and Miguel Gonzalez will round out the rest of the rotation. With Rodon out of the picture, the White Sox are forced to make a tougher decision and start either Dylan Covey, who has yet to make his MLB debut, or David Holmberg, who has only made 12 career starts.

Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech will not be making the jump up to the Major Leagues anytime soon. The organization wants to thoroughly develop the prospects in an effort to fully refine and hone their skills. For now, the White Sox will have to experiment with a few different pieces before Rodon is reevaluated after a two week throwing program.

Next: American League East Season Preview

In a season where the expectations are unknown and not relatively high, the White Sox know that rushing Tilson or Rodon back from injury is not in the best interest of the players, the team or the fans. However, everyone is hoping that the DL list does not get as extensive as it did last season.