CHICAGO -- Even with spotty playing time, Chicago White Sox rookie outfielder Trayce Thompson is impressing his club most with how he has handled his inconsistent chances.
Thompson, who got the start in right field Tuesday, has opened eyes with a .474 batting average and .842 slugging percentage. And while nobody realistically believes those numbers will stay so high, what has been impressive about his hot start is the herky-jerky fashion in which he has been able to deliver in his first 10 big league games.
From the beginning, getting at-bats hasn't been easy for the former second-round draft pick in 2009. Thompson was called up to the major leagues on Aug. 3 of this year only to sit and watch his new teammates play against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first series as a major leaguer he came to the plate just once, striking out on four pitches.
But he had two hits at Kansas City on Aug. 7 and two days later he delivered another base hit in his first career start. In his three weeks he has made five starts and only once on consecutive nights.
But he has managed to keep on hitting, even if he can look overmatched after returning from long stretches on the bench. While that is understandable, what has been refreshing to see is how quickly he can get locked in again after just one at-bat of 90-mph-plus fastballs.
"I think that's something new for him," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Thompson's start-stop schedule so far. "He's been able to do it so far, having a couple of days off, come in there, produce and play well. To be up here and doing what he's doing is part of adding to your résumé. Eventually, I'm sure he'll get some starts in there against some righties, and we'll see how that goes."
For now, the right-handed hitting Thompson has basically seen playing time with a left-handed pitcher on the mound. When Thompson plays it affords Ventura the chance to sit the struggling Adam LaRoche and put one of the regular White Sox outfielders in the designated hitter spot.
But even with LaRoche on a slight uptick offensively (6-for-18, two home runs over his last five games), Thompson is getting the opportunity to stretch his legs again.
While keeping Thompson on the roster forced the White Sox to shed lightly used utility man Emilio Bonifacio, Ventura said the decision wasn't as simple as rewarding the budding Thompson and departing with a player that had an even harder time finding the field than Thompson has.
"That was a tough one with Bonnie, because those were the choices, but where we were at, with the lefties we were going to face, that he's going to be playing." said Ventura, leaving out the fact that the White Sox will have to pay what is left on Bonifacio's $3 million contract for this year and his $1 million buyout for next season. "[Thompson] can fill in in the outfield, steal a base. I think it helps the guys in the outfield. You can pick one of those guys to DH when he's playing, and he became the choice."
Tuesday was another day when Thompson became that choice, and as the season progresses to the final month, more days could be ahead.
While the club still sees Thompson as an everyday player one day, at least he has shown that the jump to the major leagues has not been intimidating and that he can deliver even when his chances are hit and miss.