He appreciates teammate Jeff Samardzija’s suggestion he deserves more playing time, but Trayce Thompson still thinks he has much to prove.
Though his manager said Wednesday he’s “on the map” for 2016, less than 24 hours after the White Sox rookie made another stellar catch, Thompson doesn’t plan to take anything for granted. He hasn’t pushed for playing time before and doesn’t plan to start now. While he didn’t know what to expect after he was promoted in early August, Thompson has learned he can make an impact in the big leagues and expects that knowledge to drive him plenty as he prepares for the 2016 season.
“This is a big offseason for me,” Thompson said. “I thought last offseason was probably the biggest offseason of my career as far as kind of time to put up or shut up. But these past two months have kind of validated to me that I can play up here. And this offseason I’m going to get after it like I’ve never worked. I’ve prided myself on my work in the offseason, but this is very motivating to me.”
Robin Ventura isn’t too concerned about Thompson’s work habits -- he knows how serious the rookie is about his conditioning.
He’s more focused on continuing to find playing time for Thompson and his glove, one Samardzija said late Tuesday deserves to be in the lineup even if he’s hitting .050. Samardzija was extremely pleased with Thompson’s effort, one that saved the game. MLB.com’s Statcast said Thompson -- who has started 13 of the team’s last 14 games -- traveled 56 feet at a rate of 22.3 MPH to rob Ben Zobrist of a potential game-tying extra-base hit.
“He just has a lot of range,” Ventura said. “When you see him run, it's impressive, just the jumps and the strides that he has going after a ball.
“The speed that he has, you don't really see it right away, but once you see his stride, he's pretty fast. I think that's the impressive part, he can steal some bags and you've seen just the smart decisions that he makes. Last night was a do-or-die play and he made it. You're starting to see some impressive things from him. You want to keep him in the lineup just to be able to see this play out over the next five days.”
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Thompson appreciates Samardzija stumping for him, but doesn’t want any controversy. He’s pleased with what he has shown so far and it has given him more confidence about being here. But he also wants to continue to remove all doubt about his ability and knows that only comes with time.
“It’s nice to have these guys confidence,” Thompson said. “As a rookie you’re trying to prove that you can play up here, that you deserve to be up here and especially for him to say that, he’s one of the more established veterans on the team, it means a lot. And I still have a lot to prove each and every day. I’ve only been here for a couple of months now so I have a lot to prove.”