Over 719 career games in the minor leagues and 67 in the majors, Alen Hanson had started in center field once before Friday.
That’s when the White Sox decided he might as well gain experience at the position against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
The left hand of starting center fielder Leury Garcia was sore and swollen a day after he subbed into a game against the Orioles because right fielder Avisail Garcia was ejected. Leury had missed the previous three games with the injury suffered Sunday on the bases, and he was scratched from the lineup Friday because it still bothers him when he hits.
"Nothing is broken, just swelling," he said. "There’s still a little bit there."
Manager Rick Renteria said they wanted Hanson to grow comfortable in center field anyway, so first-base coach Daryl Boston did early work with him there Friday. Hanson, an infielder the Sox claimed off waivers from the Pirates last week, has played 37 games in left field in the minors and two in right field in the majors.
"It gives us flexibility and we’ll make adjustments as we move along," Renteria said. "He’s pretty excited. Anybody would be excited to play in the big leagues — anywhere on the diamond in the big leagues."
The Sox have cycled through center-field options ever since spring training.
They opted to bring in Jacob May as the starter out of spring training over veteran Peter Bourjos, whom they traded to the Rays. But May was overmatched at the plate in his first big-league stint and Garcia looked solid playing every day, so the Sox sent May back to Triple-A Charlotte for more development. They also called up and returned Adam Engel as a backup option for Garcia.
Willy Garcia, who started in center field Thursday, is more of a corner outfielder but has backed up Leury when needed.
"I don’t think he’s looking like a slouch out there," Renteria said of Willy. "He plays a little shallow. He has had a couple of balls hit on a line that he wasn’t able to get to, but for the most part he does a nice job."
Injury report: Center-field prospect Charlie Tilson, who is recovering from a stress reaction in his right foot, has been playing in controlled-environment intrasquad games at extended spring training in Arizona.
General manager Rick Hahn said they hoped to send him on a rehab assignment in late June or early July, but that could be a lengthy assignment.
"He continues to climb, but now we’re getting to the point where it has been about 11 months since he has been in a competitive game," Hahn said "We have a build that is going to take place before he’s back out there.
Second baseman Tyler Saladino, recovering from back pain, didn’t travel with the Sox, and Hahn said the club hoped to send him to Arizona during the trip to ramp up baseball activity.