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Injuries mount, but Tilson won't give up dream

White Sox prospect keeps working his way back before another enduring another setback
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- After being acquired from St. Louis, Charlie Tilson's career with the White Sox started with a single to right against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez leading off the third inning at Comerica Park on Aug. 2, 2016.

Since Tilson's one and only big league hit, the native of Winnetka, Ill., has dealt with the most trying year of his professional life. Tilson suffered a torn left hamstring chasing a fly ball in the fifth inning of that same game and underwent season-ending surgery.

CHICAGO -- After being acquired from St. Louis, Charlie Tilson's career with the White Sox started with a single to right against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez leading off the third inning at Comerica Park on Aug. 2, 2016.

Since Tilson's one and only big league hit, the native of Winnetka, Ill., has dealt with the most trying year of his professional life. Tilson suffered a torn left hamstring chasing a fly ball in the fifth inning of that same game and underwent season-ending surgery.

After fighting his way back for the start of Spring Training 2017, Tilson was sidelined by a stress reaction in his right foot at the camp's outset. He's presently out of action and wearing a boot due to a stress fracture suffered in the navicular bone of his right ankle.

Frustration certainly has hit the 24-year-old center fielder, who's ranked No. 16 among White Sox prospects, according to MLBPipeline.com. But even with his 2017 season seriously in doubt, Tilson doesn't believe his burgeoning Major League career has ended before it began.

"Not even an ounce in my mind," Tilson told MLB.com during a recent interview, with the left-handed hitter spending some time in Chicago. "I still have the opportunity of a lifetime to play in front of my hometown fans, and I still feel like I have a ton to prove.

"I won't quit. I'll still be here fighting. Hopefully it's not too much longer."

Those recent injuries for Tilson don't tie in with the hamstring tear. Instead, it's a chronic fracture he had last year but didn't specifically know about as he tried to play through. Tilson believed the hamstring injury rehab also would give that soreness time to dissipate, but the fracture needed complete immobilization.

Tilson's Spring Training stress reaction came on the outside part of the foot. While the injury sort of coincided with the navicular fracture, his fracture is located on the inside part of the ankle, so there was no reason to worry about that area until a recent MRI exam and CT scan showed the issue.

"There are certainly things I'm addressing to prevent these in the future," Tilson said. "You try to play through. Then you do it enough and it's something you have to deal with when it asserts itself."

Tilson was working every day through extended spring camp prior to the latest setback. He was getting in controlled intrasquad games and building up to play.

That feeling of getting closer to a return left Tilson "shocked and so disappointed" when the fracture was discovered. But it didn't dampen his singular goal of doing everything possible to get back to the White Sox, even if surgery becomes a possibility when he's re-examined in a month.

"You find something out like that, and it's out of your control completely and you just have to deal with it," said Tilson of the fracture. "At the end of the day, you can't really dwell on it or make an excuse.

"I've got a lot of business to take care of, and the ultimate goal is when my time comes, go out and assert myself and show the player that I wanted to be all along. The more adversity and the more hurdles you go through, ultimately it's going to make me stronger in the end."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Charlie Tilson