CHICAGO (AP) — Trayce Thompson’s fourth team in 3 1/2 weeks was a familiar one for the athletic outfielder.
Thompson joined the Chicago White Sox on Friday after he was acquired in a trade with Oakland, returning to the ballclub that selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft out of high school and gave him his first shot at the majors.
“Obviously they know me really well and so I am just going to do what I can to prepare to help these guys win every day,” Thompson said.
The 27-year-old Thompson gives manager Rick Renteria a bench option who can play anywhere in the outfield. He also could spell Nicky Delmonico in left when certain left-handers are on the mound.
“Even though Nicky stands in very well against lefties, maybe Trayce gives us an opportunity in certain situations to be able to use him in that capacity,” Renteria said. “Also, late-inning defense, things of that nature. It gives us a lot of flexibility.”
Thompson came in to play right in the eighth inning of Chicago’s 10-0 loss to Houston on Friday night. He then fouled out in his lone plate appearance in the ninth.
Thompson, the younger brother of Golden State guard Klay Thompson and son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson, made his major league debut with Chicago in 2015, batting .295 with five homers and 16 RBIs in 44 games. The White Sox then traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers that winter as part of a three-team deal that also moved Todd Frazier from Cincinnati to Chicago.
Thompson said it was devastating, and general manager Rick Hahn said it also was a tough move for the team.
“It was one of the more difficult calls I had to make leading up to that time, because it certainly wasn’t someone we wanted to move on from,” Hahn said. “So yesterday was a good one, we get to welcome a guy back who a lot of people not only like and respect as a person, but know what he’s potentially capable of doing as a player. It was a much easier call yesterday than it was a few Decembers back.”
Thompson played parts of two seasons with Los Angeles, hitting 13 homers in 2016, but he was cut by the Dodgers late in spring training, beginning an odyssey that took him all over the country.
He was claimed by the New York Yankees and then waived again a couple days later. Oakland picked him up on April 5, reuniting him with Klay, but it was a short stay. He went 1 for 7 in his first three games of the season before he was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Tuesday.
“It’s been crazy,” Thompson said before the series opener against the Astros.
The White Sox got Thompson back on Thursday for cash. They also traded infielder Tyler Saladino to Milwaukee for cash, putting Leury Garcia in more of an infield utility role while Thompson occupies a similar job for the outfield.
Even after the flurry of moves, Thompson remains confident. He is looking to earn a regular role in Chicago and stick around as the team continues to rebuild.
“I always thought that I had the ability to play every day,” he said. “I feel like I showed that when I was here in ’15 for I know it was brief, small sample size. I know that. But then in ’16 I thought I did the same thing in LA. There was a point there in the middle of that season where I was hitting in the middle of the order for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I was 25 years old, and I know it was a small sample size, but I know I’m that same player. It’s up to me to go prove myself again.”
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