GLENDALE, Ariz. – Trayce Thompson watched a lot of baseball last year. He did not enjoy it.
“It was tough, man,” the Dodgers outfielder said of being sidelined for half the season with a back injury. “It’s one thing to see your team play without you. That’s difficult. But it’s a tough thing to watch them down the stretch and make the playoffs and play those intense games and not be a part of it. The guys were great, trying to make me still feel part of the team. But it was tough not being able to be out there with them.”
Thompson learned a lot of difficult lessons last year – like, in retrospect, realizing that his back injury was more serious than he wanted to believe. He first began feeling the discomfort in May but played through the pain. He was hitting .270 with an .865 OPS on May 28, but hit .185 with a .636 OPS over his next 39 games. He further injured the back when he ran into a wall while making a catch in July.
That’s when stress fractures in two vertebra in his lower back were found and Thompson headed to the DL, his season over on July 10.
“It definitely was (more serious than he wanted to acknowledge),” Thompson says now. “But I didn’t feel as bad as it sounds.
“I’d been playing with it since the middle of May but I enjoy the game so much and I was getting a chance to play on a regular basis. I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to tap out in that scenario.”
The pain didn’t fully disappear…