LOS ANGELES -- As Trayce Thompson entered Dodger Stadium before Monday's 3-2 loss, he was aware his 2016 season didn't match up with what he felt he could do. His slash line was at .234/.300/.324, a sharp decline from last year's .295/.363/.533, and a misplay in left field had nearly
LOS ANGELES -- As Trayce Thompson entered Dodger Stadium before Monday's 3-2 loss, he was aware his 2016 season didn't match up with what he felt he could do. His slash line was at .234/.300/.324, a sharp decline from last year's .295/.363/.533, and a misplay in left field had nearly cost his team a win a day ago in Colorado.
He responded with highlights on both sides of the ball, starting with his first home run in a Dodger uniform, then flashing the leather in center field. It was a performance that came thanks to advice from everywhere around the 25-year-old, from teammates to manager Dave Roberts.
"I've done a poor job of that these first three weeks," Thompson said of hitting for power. "I feel like I'm a big a guy, I'm supposed to drive the ball, and that's what I've done my whole entire career. I've been working hard with ... [Turner Ward] and Manny Mota and everybody, even Dave."
Thompson got both of his hits against Marlins lefty Wei-Yin Chen off four-seam fastballs, a pitch Thompson said he was looking for due to Chen's aggressive tendencies.
As far as the swing that allowed Thompson to send a ball 405 feet into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning, it was matter of staying behind the ball and finding a way to drive it. Lunging to the ball had been a problem all season for Thompson, but it took a conversation with Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in Colorado to confirm that's what was holding him back.
"I've gone through it before in my career," Thompson said. "We have so many guys here to lean on, whether it's Chase [Utley] or Howie [Kendrick] or CC [Carl Crawford] or JT [Justin Turner], and Adrian, obviously. It's been a blessing to be around these guys and very humbling to know that they're accepting you as their teammate and giving you advice. I'm just trying to learn and implement as much as I can into my game."
Thompson's highlight catch in the fourth inning almost didn't happen. He misread the ball due to Adeiny Hechavarria's hard swing and backed up a couple of steps before getting the proper read and breaking into a full sprint toward shallow center.
"He took a big swing, so I took a couple steps back," Thompson said. "I was just happy to get in there and get it. That's what I bring to the table. That's why yesterday weighed heavy on me, making that mistake in Colorado. I want the ball out there, and I want to make a play for my pitcher."
Thompson's playing time might see a small squeeze with Crawford's imminent return, but he was at least able to show Roberts the two-way value his power and athleticism provide.
"Trayce is a heck of a baseball player," Roberts said. "He had some good at-bats. It was good to see him hit a homer. He had three, four good at-bats tonight, and that great diving play in center field saved us a run right there. He played both sides of the baseball."
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.