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May day: Rookie wins center-field job

Sox' trade of Bourjos opens up opportunity for outfielder
March 28, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jacob May received a text Tuesday morning from his great uncle, Carlos, who played nine of his 10 Major League seasons with the White Sox and currently serves as a team ambassador."He was like, 'I'm excited for you. Get used to the cold,' said May with a

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jacob May received a text Tuesday morning from his great uncle, Carlos, who played nine of his 10 Major League seasons with the White Sox and currently serves as a team ambassador.
"He was like, 'I'm excited for you. Get used to the cold,' said May with a laugh. "It's awesome to kind of be able to carry on that name a little bit."
May also heard from his grandfather, Lee, who hit 354 home runs over 18 seasons. This family contact came after the White Sox traded Peter Bourjos to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later or cash considerations, meaning May, 25, had all but won the job as the White Sox Opening Day center fielder.
This position opened up when Charlie Tilson, working his way back from surgery to repair a torn left hamstring, suffered a right foot stress reaction. Tilson will be in a walking boot for three weeks and isn't expected back until the end of May or early June.

Injuries also had been an issue for May, who had a bruised right pinkie finger in '14, a concussion after colliding with Tim Anderson in '15 and abdominal strains in '16. He came into camp as an under-the-radar candidate and earned his way on to the roster.
"I had nothing to lose," May said. "Not someone that is really talked about a lot, which is fine with me. I don't really care about that stuff. It gave me a little chip on my shoulder.
"People didn't expect too much from me. I know the organization knows what I'm capable of doing, which is all that really matters. Everyone else has opinions as well.
"But as long as everyone in that locker room knows what I'm capable of, that's all I can care about," May said. "I just wanted to play my butt off. I wanted to play hard and just have my teammates back and be a good locker room guy. Stay humble and continue to learn every day and get better."
If May also falls into the leadoff spot, which manager Rick Renteria wouldn't commit to Tuesday, he's excited to resume the one-two punch with his friend and former Minor League teammate Anderson at the top of the lineup. May enjoyed working with Bourjos and learned about going about his business as a Major Leaguer from the veteran.

A similar skill set exists between May and Bourjos, in that they both have excellent speed and play outstanding defense in center. The switch-hitting May will do whatever is needed to help the team -- whether it's a bunt, a stolen base or taking away an extra-base hit. He's just happy for the chance.
"My whole life I've been dreaming about this," May said. "Since I was a little kid, I've been around locker rooms and around players. It's a little surreal. I'm just out there to help this team win and hopefully I'll do that and carry the [May] name well."
"He's pretty happy, talking him today a little bit," Renteria said. "Jacob has done a very nice job. He's played very, very well out there both defensively and offensively."

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.