Tilson thrilled to be getting another shot with Chicago White Sox
Baseball is all about dealing with adversity, not only from day to day but inning to inning and often pitch to pitch.
After what he has been through, Charlie Tilson can handle difficulty better than most.
Growing up in Winnetka as a Chicago White Sox fan, Tilson joined the South Siders in a July 31, 2016, trade from the St. Louis Cardinals.
He made his major-league debut on Aug. 2 and was on top of the world after singling in his first at-bat.
Two innings later, he was down in a heap with a torn left hamstring. It got even worse from there.
"One day I'm playing in my first major-league game," Tilson said. "A few days later, I'm dropping my pants in my parents' basement so my mom can take pictures of the stitches from the surgery and send them to the doctors to make sure they looked good."
Understandably eager to get back on the field in 2017, Tilson missed the season with fractures in his right foot and ankle.
"It was a tough road," he said.
Tilson did return last year, splitting time between Class AAA Charlotte and the Sox. He did OK with the White Sox, hitting .264/.331/.292 with no home runs, 11 RBI and 2 stolen bases in 41 games.
"I don't think I had as much success as I would have liked last year, but it was a great experience," he said. "It teaches you what parts of your game you have to improve."
Tilson, who joined the Sox from Charlotte on May 6 after light-hitting center fielder Adam Engel was sent down, started his 10th straight game Thursday night against Toronto.
The 26-year-old New Trier High School product was hitting .303/.343/.364 with 2 RBI and 3 steals heading into the game while using his speed to play strong defense in center. With a single in the fourth inning against the Blue Jays, Tilson has hit safely in eight of 10 games.
"Tilly's come in now a little stronger," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Everybody realizes that he was down for quite a bit of time. He built up his strength. He did a great job of reassembling his swing, so to speak.
"His confidence, and everything he's gone through, I think has grown. The experiences that he's had he's built on, and I think that he continues to have solid approaches."
In addition to being stronger, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder altered his mechanics at the plate now that his left hamstring is fully healed.
"I've tried to narrow up a little bit and really just focus on getting strong sync into my back leg and be able to hinge and allow myself to recognize the pitch," Tilson said. "I've had some people notice that they feel like I've added a leg kick.
"But for me it's really focusing on getting in that back leg and whatever position I get into it will be what it is."