The first wave of cuts from Sox camp were announced on Tuesday afternoon. Among the cuts were relief pitchers Thyago Vieira and Michael Ynoa, as well as outfielder Charlie Tilson. Tilson being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte comes as a bit of a surprise and a huge disappointment for the outfielder who has missed almost all of the last two seasons due to injury. Tilson was the odds on favorite to win the starting center-fielder job entering camp, or at minimum break camp with the club as the fourth outfielder, and now finds himself among the first wave of cuts.
Tilson’s demotion opens the door for outfielder Ryan Cordell to make the 25-man roster out of spring training. Cordell’s emergence this spring has been another surprise, as the 26-year old outfielder has hit .308 while getting on base at a .471 rate. Despite Cordell’s emergence, the center field job still appears to be Adam Engel‘s to lose as the speedy center fielder once again led off and played center for the Sox today against the Milwaukee Brewers. Despite hitting .166 last year, Engel’s glove was enough to give him another shot at the center field job this year. Engel revamped his swing over the offseason, and so far results are positive. Engel is hitting .417 with a .563 on base percentage, to go along with two home runs. The battle for the starting center field spot appears that it is still wide open.
Making his second start of the spring today, Reynaldo Lopez was impressive. Pitching three innings, and allowing only one hit, but walking three. The righty struck out three batters as well. Lopez attributed his rocky first, and subsequent success to fastball location, “The first inning my fastball command wasn’t there, but I battled through and I think I did good, I feel good”. Lopez also mentioned his breaking pitches as a reason for his success this spring, saying he expects to keep generating weak contact and swings and misses as he has all spring.
Reynaldo Lopez was not the only young Sox pitcher to make an impression against the Brewers. Dane Dunning, making his second appearance of the spring, entered with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh. Dunning proceeded to retire the next eight batters he faced, and worked his way out of the bases loaded jam only allowing a run on a sacrifice fly. Dunning nearly finished the game, but was pulled with two outs in the ninth. Dunning still recorded his first win of the spring, as the Sox managed to win 6-4.
Avisail Garcia notched two more hits today as well, continuing his hot spring. Garcia has managed to pick up where he left off last season, and is now hitting .364 this spring. Also getting in on the offensive action today was prospect Micker Adolfo. Playing in the designated hitter role while recovering from a UCL tear that doctors deemed that surgery was avoidable, Adolfo hit a ringing double in the eighth inning, driving home fellow outfield prospect Luis Basabe.
The Sox continue to play out their spring training schedule tomorrow at 2:05 against the Reds. Miguel Gonzalez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will be the starter.