LOS ANGELES — Among the news items to come out of Tuesday’s press conference at Dodger Stadium didn’t have to do with Kenley Jansen or Justin Turner, who were welcomed back after signing free agent deals to return to Los Angeles. Trayce Thompson is still recovering from his broken back, and might not be fully ready at the start of spring training.
"It's not clear [he’ll be ready when camp opens],” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “It's possible, but as we start ramping up we'll have a better feel.”
Thompson was sidelined in July with lower back tightness then during his rehab in August later discovered he had a few fractures in his back. That wiped out the remainder of his season, though it didn’t stop him from trying to return in September, when he was ramping up baseball activities as a race against the clock.
This offseason, the Dodgers are focusing on getting Thompson back at 100%, whether that means he’s ready later in spring training, or in April, or whenever.
"The back has slowly progressed. He's now getting into more baseball activities,” Friedman said. “We took some time before the new year to focus much more on strengthening aspect. We deliberately slowed him down to focus on strengthening.”
Thompson hit .225/.302/.436 with 13 home runs in 80 games for the Dodgers in 2016, and made 61 outfield starts, including 26 in center field. He last played on July 10.
As of now, Thompson hasn’t yet swung a bat this offseason, but that has something to do with the timing of the offseason. That will be one of his final tasks in rehab as he continues to add baseball activities to his workload.
“Him hitting in December didn't make as much sense as in spring training,” Friedman said.
The Dodgers remain hopeful that, even if it isn’t at the start of camp, that Thompson will be ready at “full go” at some point during spring training.