PHOENIX -- Trayce Thompson started for the Dodgers on Saturday, manning center field and providing a right-handed bat against southpaw White Sox ace Chris Sale. That Thompson was in the lineup wasn't a surprise; after all, he has been an iron man of sorts for the Dodgers so far this spring.
Thompson leads the Dodgers this spring with 40 plate appearances in Cactus League play, five more than his nearest competitor, and his 83 defensive innings in the outfield entering Saturday are 14 more than anybody else on the team.
Saturday marks Thompson's 17th game in 17 days, tied with Rico Noel for most games played on the team. The other three players with 16 games entering Saturday aren't starting but are in uniform — Rob Segedin, Corey Brown and Brandon Hicks.
In addition to being on the 40-man roster, Thompson sets himself apart from the other four games played leaders with his 10 starts, nearly as much as the other four non-roster invitees combined (12 starts).
"He's a guy who can do a lot of different things. We want to see him as much as we possibly can. I'm putting him in center and right a little bit, and left," manager Dave Roberts said of Thompson on Saturday. "It's a chance for us to get eyes on him."
Entering Saturday, Thompson has played 53 innings in center field (six more than starter Joc Pederson), 26 innings in right field and four more in left.
Thompson, acquired from the White Sox on Dec. 16, 2015, is in many ways the perfect reserve outfielder for this team. He can play all three outfield spots well, can run, and has a little pop as well. He would be the perfect right-handed complement to Pederson in center field.
He hit .295/.363/.533 in 44 games with Chicago in his first major league stint in 2015. He is hitting .216/.275/.486 with five extra-base hits this spring.
But Thompson, 25, will likely find himself on the outside looking in to open the season, barring injuries or some surprising moves. The club already has outfielder Carl Crawford, who really only plays left field, on its bench, along with outfielder Scott Van Slyke, who can also play first base.
But this happens every spring, it seems. As opening day draws nearer, more and more at-bats will go to those most likely to make the roster. And if Andre Ethier is able to return within a few days after fouling a ball off his right leg, the outfield playing time will be that much harder to come by. Roberts made it clear earlier Saturday where Thompson ultimately stands.
"As we get the other guys back and as we look toward the last couple of weeks of spring, his at-bats will be curtailed," Roberts said.
But even if he doesn't make the opening day roster, Thompson figures to play with the Dodgers at some point this season. After playing literally every day this spring so far, the club has a pretty good idea what they will get.