GLENDALE. Ariz. -- Trayce Thompson has hit his goal of being 100 percent healthy by March 1, and his wait to play in a Cactus League game could be down to just days.The Dodgers outfielder has finally recovered from two fractured vertebrae in his lower back that derailed his emergence
GLENDALE. Ariz. -- Trayce Thompson has hit his goal of being 100 percent healthy by March 1, and his wait to play in a Cactus League game could be down to just days.
The Dodgers outfielder has finally recovered from two fractured vertebrae in his lower back that derailed his emergence last year as an impact player. When relievers Sergio Romo and Grant Dayton threw live batting practice on Tuesday, Thompson was one of the hitters.
"I've been medically cleared," Thompson said. "I have no issues, been running around. I even run from the field to the cage, just because I feel good. I wasn't able to run for five or six months, and I don't ever want to stop now, and I definitely won't take it for granted again."
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With a predominantly left-handed lineup that struggled last season against left-handed pitching, Dodgers management can only hope the right-handed Thompson returns healthy from the back injury that he said began bothering him in May. He finished with a .225/.302/.436 slashline, but his numbers peaked at .307/.358/.613 on May 17. He had 10 homers by June 7, finished with 13 and played his last game on July 10.
Thompson has said Dodgers trainers suspect he might have unknowingly injured his back even before he was acquired a year ago from the White Sox. He said the discomfort started in May and varied in intensity until he ran into a wall in a game against the Orioles in July, leaving him with an irritated nerve.
"If you look back on my mechanics, you could definitely tell something was going on with my posture, and I have to make sure I don't lose it," Thompson said.
Without a normal offseason, Thompson has been building his conditioning the first two weeks of Spring Training. He said his training routine has changed dramatically.
"It's more fine tuning, more maintenance, doing specific exercises instead of throwing weights around, diligently working on each muscle," Thompson said. "[The training staff] is really progressive and smart about the stuff they have us do, all of us, but especially me now. I've definitely changed my routine 100 percent. I'm sure I could cold-turkey it and get out there and just stretch with the guys and go. But now I'm one of the first guys here every day to do all my stuff beforehand, and it's definitely worth it."
Thompson knows the late start has somewhat compromised his chances to make the Opening Day roster, especially with so many quality outfielders in camp. But that hasn't dampened his confidence.
"I know I belong in the Major Leagues," Thompson said. "I know it's a steep task from looking from the outside in, but I try not to think about it and just do what I can control each day. The next step is to play in a game and work on my swing and defense and baserunning, just trying to get ready to play a season."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.