By Bruce Levine--
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) -- The need for player development won out over an already-developed player in White Sox camp Tuesday.
Chicago traded veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos to Tampa Bay to open up more playing time for 25-year-old Jacob May, who has had a quality spring and now has the opportunity to be the team's primary center fielder. Leury Garcia will be in the center field mix too.
May opened up the eyes of team executives by hitting .349 in 25 games and playing solid defense. Selected in the third round of the 2013 draft, May has had injury-plagued seasons in 2015 and 2016. He had a .266 batting average and .662 OPS in 83 games at Triple-A Charlotte last season.
May credited Bourjos for giving him advice.
"It was an honor to work with Peter," May said. "He taught me a lot. Even though he was so humble, I talked to him every day. He never talked down to me. Peter is a great player, very talented. It was an awesome experience playing with him.
May is the grandson of former Reds first baseman Lee May, and his great uncle is former White Sox All-Star Carlos May. For his part, May wants to make the most of this good timing that has given him a chance when the White Sox are rebuilding and prioritizing player development.
"This puts Jacob in a good position for us," manager Rick Renteria said. "He is pretty happy with the decision. Jacob has done a real nice job this spring."
The original plan had been for 24-year-old Charlie Tilson to be the team's everyday center field, but he'll be out until at least May with a foot injury. The exit of Bourjos came as the White Sox realized there was no reason to have a young player sitting on the bench as a backup.
"It would not do us any good to bring up a young person and sit him," Renteria said of May. "He would have to be playing five to seven days a week."
May won't be the team's lead-off hitter in the early part of April, but with good speed, he could end up there eventually.
"It is too early to say that is what he is," Renteria said. "We have to check off quite a few things. I don't know if I want to put him in that slot immediately. He has done a great job on both offense and defense. He can do quite a few good things. We do know there is still a learning curve once he begins his career."
The outfield of May, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia will be counted on for some form of offensive production. How much will be a story worth following.
"As long as we keep the big picture in mind and don't grow impatient, we have a better chance of fulfilling our expectations with our young people in the long run," Renteria said.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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