With Opening Day rapidly approaching, the Los Angeles Dodgers will soon put the finishing touches on their initial 25-man roster to enter the regular season.
Left field was a key focus heading into Spring Training, where the likes of Kiké Hernandez, Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Trayce Thompson, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo all figured to factor into the picture in some regard.
For Toles, the spring marked his first time returning to game action since tearing his ACL last May. He was one of the more productive hitters and essentially picked up where he last left off.
Despite his success, Dodgers officials reportedly believe he could benefit by beginning the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
Some team officials believe Toles could benefit from playing everyday in Oklahoma City as he returns from knee surgery.
In 52 plate appearances during Cactus League play, Toles hit .280/.283/.520 and compiled 14 hits — six of them for extra bases. He accumulated four doubles, one triple and two home runs during that span, while tallying nine RBI to boot.
Given his long layoff and the Dodgers’ excessive depth in left field, it makes sense to slow play Toles’ return to the Majors. With Oklahoma City, he would receive everyday at-bats and continue catching up to game speed.
If Toles does indeed begin the year on the Minor League side, his spot will presumably go to one of Joc Pederson or Trayce Thompson. Like Toles, the former has Minor League options remaining.
Therefore, although he’s struggled some, Thompson may very well have the inside track, given he would be exposed to waivers should the Dodgers choose to not include him on the Opening Day roster. Los Angeles may ultimately decide to trade Thompson before Opening Day, though nothing has come to fruition just yet.