In late June, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Trayce Thompson from the Detroit Tigers for cash considerations to fill their need for a right-handed hitting outfielder.
Thompson was in Triple-A at the time of the trade and thus far has exceeded expectations in his reunion with the Dodgers. In 63 plate appearances, the 31-year-old is batting .276/.333/.500 with two home runs and 11 RBI, and provided multiple clutch hits.
Thompson believes he’s “been in a solid spot all year,” and the results are finally showing that, but he still thinks he can be even better and credited the Dodgers’ coaching staff and players for helping him.
“I know I was in Triple-A most of the year, or for a good chunk of the season, but I feel like I’ve been in a good spot,” Thompson said. “And honestly, I feel like I’ve been searching a little bit here. But I feel like my at-bats have been a little consistent, but they can definitely get better.
“These guys have been awesome working with me. All three hitting coaches, and even a lot of the other coaches just talking, just having conversations, and obviously all these guys in this locker room. But in my opinion, it can get a lot better. I kind of strive for that every day.”
After signing with the Tigers earlier in the season, Thompson was assigned to the Toledo Mud Hens, where he hit .299/.352/.639 with seven doubles, eight home runs and 19 RBI across 25 games.
That came after Thompson batted just .071 for the San Diego Padres before being designated for assignment.
While performing at Triple-A is still an impressive feat, producing at the Major League level is much harder and it’s something Thompson hasn’t done much of in recent years. Part of that was due to his back injury, but he also contributed it to bouncing around to different organizations.
Now that he’s back where his career started to take off, he is feeling much more comfortable and it’s allowing him to play at his best.
“Obviously the players, like Clayton being here and Austin, some of my closest friends that are still here, but also the clubbies, the trainers and the staff and the coaches, traveling secretary,” Thompson said. “I have a relationship with all these people and all that stuff matters.
“Bouncing from team to team and meeting a bunch of new people can be tough. That’s part of this game that doesn’t really get talked about. I spent so much time with these guys, working out here in the offseason for a few years, and when I was hurt and the team would go on the road but I would stay back.
“These guys are amazing. It’s a first-class organization. That definitely adds to the comfort level and when you’re comfortable, you play better.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been thrilled with the impact Thompson has made for the club and he also believes the comfort level has been a contributing factor for the success.
“He’s just a guy you can’t bet against,” Roberts said. “I think that there’s a lot to familiarity, so having Trayce comfortable, knowing the surroundings, I think that gave him the best chance to perform from the get-go.
“He’s had some big hits for us this year against right-handers, against left-handers. I love the defense. He’s an amazing teammate. So he’s a guy that when he has success, everyone kind of really enjoys that moment for him.”
Dodgers players contributing to Thompson’s success
Thompson has also been thankful that the rest of the Dodgers players have been supporting him and helping him improve. Although they weren’t teammates during Thompson’s last stint with the club, Freddie Freeman has been a big influence on the outfielder.
Mookie Betts believes this support from the rest of the team, along with the comfort level, has helped Thompson have an immediate impact for the club.
“It’s huge,” Betts said. “For him to come in, I think everybody was watching to make sure he’s a good fit. He came right in and he already knew all the guys. I think he was comfortable coming in, and that’s why he’s so successful.
“He’s comfortable. He knows he’s going to play. He knows we all believe in him and he believes in himself. That’s huge. He’s just playing his game.”
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