Last spring, Trayce Thompson’s first with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he finished second on the team with 29 Cactus League games played. Though, Thompson led the team with 75 at-bats, which was 15 more than Rob Segedin, who paced the team by appearing in 30 games.
With the Dodgers now two weeks into their 2017 Cactus League schedule, this year has been markedly different for Thompson. He spent the offseason recovering from multiple fractured vertebrae that were a result of crashing into the fence at Dodger Stadium last July.
Thompson had been playing through back since May. The Dodgers carefully brought Thompson along the rehabilitation process, which left the versatile outfielder eager to make his return to the field.
That came Saturday, when Thompson started in right field and hit cleanup. He was scheduled to play four innings but went six and finished 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Thompson was relieved to make his debut but acknowledged it affected him, per Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“Today I was just jumpy, just anxious,” Thompson said. “Obviously, the results weren’t there today. I’m working on some things in my swing, as I usually do every spring training. I felt OK. I was just happy to be out there, and get the first day over with.”
Thompson had spent the better part of the past two weeks participating in workouts alongside his teammates and facing Hyun-Jin Ryu, among others, during live batting practice sessions. Ryu also made his first start of the year on Saturday, turning in two scoreless innings.
As for Thompson, he re-enters a complex outfield picture that he managed to emerge from last season prior to going down with the back injury. Joc Pederson is entrenched in center field and Yasiel Puig figures to have a decent grasp on right, which leaves the bulk of opportunity for playing time in left.
Last season, Thompson spent time in center field (32 games; 26 starts), right field (28;22) and left field (24;13). He batted .225/.302/.436 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs, 32 RBI, a .318 wOBA and 100 wRC+ while appearing in career-high 80 games.