Daryl Boston has had a big influence on Trayce Thompson’s career so it’s no surprise the younger credits the first-base coach as a key reason for his comfort and confidence in the majors.
Thompson met Boston on his second day as a professional baseball player at Rookie-Bristol after he was selected in the second round of the 2009 draft.
The two have shared a close bond since, Boston calling Thompson one of his favorite players because of a strong work ethic to accompany an outstanding skillset.
After yet another breakout game on Tuesday, Thompson, who is hitting .522/.560/.957 in 25 plate appearances, said it was Boston who reminded him after the Aug. 5 promotion that confidence would breed success. But Boston deflected the praise and noted the rookie’s upbringing around his family and other athletes – he went to high school with Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies) and Gavin Escobar (Dallas Cowboys) -- prepared Thompson for life in the majors.
“He grew up in this,” Boston said. “The stage is never going to be too big for him. For him it was a matter of just doing it. All his friends havedone it. He’s been around guys that have had success. Like he said, he expects to do this. It doesn’t surprise him. Doesn’t surprise me, either.
“He talks to Nolan Arrenado, he talks to his brothers -- he’s getting that information from all kinds of people. I’m just one of the guys that’s just helping him to be here.”
Thompson said Boston has made a significant impact on his three weeks in the majors.
While Thompson has made it look easy -- he’s12-for-23, including 10-for-17 against left-handers -- it is anything but, given the circumstances. Not only is he facing major league pitchers, Thompson, an everyday player in the minors, has only played sporadically, primarily against southpaws.
He believes he can succeed against righties, too, but Thompson also knows that even if he doesn’t start he has a chance to pinch hit or as a defensive replacement. So even when he’s not in the lineup, Thompson prepares as if he is so he can impact a game if he gets a chance.
“There’s kind of a lot of situations where I come into the game later anyway so I’m always ready, I’m always ready to help contribute,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s hot start has been so good that any time he’s not in the lineup, disgruntled fans take to social media to ask why. White Sox managerRobin Ventura has platooned him for now because he wants to put Thompson in a position to succeed. But Ventura has discussed more playing time down the road if Thompson keeps this up.
“I told him just take what you can get right now,” Boston said. “I know you want to be in there every day. But just be ready when your turn comes and he’s more than filled up his end of the bargain.”
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Boston is thrilled to see Thompson perform as he has. On their first day together, Boston told Thompson to grab his glove and they headed to the field to work. Thompson has workedhard ever since and Boston is happy to see it pay off. Boston believes the biggest difference for Thompson is that he has become more aggressive in attacking pitchers.
“It was always a matter of whether that bat would catch up,” Boston said. “He’s taking some aggressive swings now.”
Thompson said it’s a byproduct of his confidence and comfort. He acknowledges growing up around the NBA has played a significant role. But he also pointed to Boston’s advice on his first day in Chicago to be confident and he’d succeed as helping with his comfort level.
“I took that to heart and I think that has helped me a lot,” Thompson said. “It’s been very comfortable for me. I have also grown up in the brightest lights with my dad and his job and stuff, but its just baseball to me. It’s having fun and these guys make it very comfortable and easy for me.
“Baseball is a game of confidence anyway whether you’re in rookie ball or the big leagues. You have to be confident to have success tostart with so. (Daryl Boston) has helped me so much throughout my career and for him to tell me that my first day here. He’s always had my best interest at heart and he’s known me longer than probably any of these coaches here. It was some good advice and I’m just trying to benefit.”