The Sox made eight roster moves Tuesday, and Tilson was among the players optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.
It's somewhat surprising to see Tilson sent out the second week of March, as he was believed to be a contender for a starting job in center field, along with Adam Engel, Leury Garcia and Ryan Cordell.
But after a 3-for-18 performance in eight spring games, the club obviously has decided Tilson needs more at-bats in the minor leagues. General manager Rick Hahn foreshadowed this possibility at SoxFest, when he noted that both Tilson and Cordell have missed significant time because of injuries.
Cordell has shown well this spring -- he's 4 for 13 in six games with four walks and no strikeouts -- but he soon might join Tilson in Triple-A just because he didn't play at all the second half of last season.
That leaves Engel and Garcia in the mix, and we know the Sox like Engel's defense. It's also no secret the 26-year-old needed a swing overhaul after hitting .166 in 301 plate appearances at the big-league level last season. So far, so good for Engel this spring -- he's 5 for 16 with two home runs and four RBIs in eight games.
Garcia is the most accomplished player in contention for the center field job, but most of his playing time this spring has been in the infield. Garcia is an infielder by trade, but he was given time in the outfield last year to take advantage of his athleticism. When healthy, he was decent in 2017, posting a .270/.316/.423 slash line with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 87 games.
Right now, Engel might have the inside track to be the center fielder based upon his defense, his health and some signs of offensive progress.
In other moves, pitcher Thyago Vieira was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Right-hander Jose Ruiz was optioned to Single-A Winston-Salem.
Injured third baseman Jake Burger, catcher Alfredo Gonzalez and pitchers Michael Ynoa, Jordan Guerrero and Dylan Covey all were assigned to minor-league camp.