The Los Angeles Dodgers opened camp on Wednesday, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training. The day’s activities primarily consisted of players taking physicals and arranging their lockers.
Per usual, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts met with members of the media, and covered an array of topics pertaining to the club’s offseason and outlook for Spring Training and 2017 regular season.
The talking points included the health of multiple players coming off injury, one of which is outfielder Trayce Thompson.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Friedman said Thompson is behind in his recovery from multiple back fractures:
Updating players recovering from injuries, Roberts said Trayce Thompson is behind schedule in his recovery from broken vertebrae, but is doing all baseball activities, including running.
Thompson played his way into regular playing time last season before succumbing to injury, which was initially diagnosed as lower back irritation. Then in August, it was discovered that Thompson had multiple fractures in his back.
In December, Friedman said the club was taking a cautious approach with Thompson’s rehab process, placing more an emphasis on getting him healthy for the regular season as opposed to Cactus League play. Thompson echoed that sentiment last month, though also said he was eyeing a return in early March.
Thompson hit .225/.302/.436 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs, 32 RBI, a .318 wOBA and 100 wRC+ in 80 games last season. He peaked in May, batting .270/.352/.603 with six home runs and 14 RBI in 21 games (18 starts), leading the Dodgers in several offensive categories during that span.
Thompson logged time in center field (32 games; 26 starts), right field (28;22) and left field (24;13). Uncertainty surrounding his return may have further influenced the Dodgers to sign veteran outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year contract.
What’s more, Gutierrez has hit left-handed pitching well throughout his career, which is an area the Dodgers struggled in last season. Gutierrez’s contract had not yet been finalized as of Wednesday afternoon. Los Angeles must clear a spot on their 40-man roster in order to do so.
Even if Thompson is unavailable for a portion of Spring Training or the regular season, the Dodgers have Andre Ethier, Gutierrez, Kiké Hernandez, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles and Scott Van Slyke vying for time in the two corner outfield spots.