GLENDALE, Ariz. -- That catch Trayce Thompson made in the fourth inning Saturday, drifting back and using every bit of his 6-foot-3 frame to stop a line drive from reaching the wall, is exactly the kind of play the newcomer needs to make during what appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Thompson, an acquisition this winter in the three-team trade that sent All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, is getting every opportunity to show a new Los Angeles Dodgers coaching staff what he can do. If there is a Dodgers game in the desert, Thompson has essentially been in it.
In fact, he has played in 17 of the Dodgers' 18 Cactus League games this spring. The only one he missed? It was one of the two split-squad games the Dodgers played on March 12.
"You always want to play well; you always want to make a strong impression, but I think the most important thing is controlling what I can control," Thompson said. "I definitely found myself getting a little anxious at times, but I just have to dial it back, have fun, have good at-bats and play good defense."
Manager Dave Roberts already said last week that Joc Pederson was not in danger of losing his center-field job to Thompson. And the Dodgers have a number of other outfield options in Yasiel Puig, Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier.
But it hasn't stopped the coaching staff from getting an up-close look at the club's newest player, even if he does seem destined for Triple-A Oklahoma City to start the season.
"I think a guy that can do a lot of different things and we want to see him as much as we possibly can," Roberts said of Thompson. "I'm putting him in center a little bit, in right and in left. I think that I'm not too concerned about the volume [of playing time] because as a younger player, he's got 30-something [Cactus League] at-bats right now. He would be getting those on the [minor league] side anyway."
So what are the Dodgers looking for, exactly, if Thompson probably won't make the Opening Day roster? The Dodgers would like to see his gap-to-gap power emerge more consistently as he reached the 40 at-bat mark Saturday, hitting .200 with a .706 OPS. On defense, his hiccups have been minor, and he has shown a glove that could one day be Gold Glove-caliber with enough playing time.
"I've gotten a little tense over the past couple of weeks because I want to make a play so bad and show them that I'm a good outfielder that everyone has talked about," Thompson said. "I felt like me and [coach] George [Lombard] were doing some extra work after everything, he was just talking to me and telling me to relax and have fun. 'We know you're a good player, just go out there and have fun.' "
Yet, Thompson is still log-jammed on multiple fronts. Not only is Pederson the starter in center, he even has Van Slyke ahead of him as the backup who plays against left-handed pitching. The White Sox used Thompson mostly against left-handers when he was brought up to the major leagues for the first time in the second half last year.
"I found myself pressing at times and I just have to tell myself to relax and treat it like any other game, because these are new coaches, new eyes on me and stuff, and I'm trying to make a strong impression," Thompson said. "But at the same time, I think the most important thing is that I have to get ready for a season, because it doesn't matter if I'm in Oklahoma City or L.A., or [rookie league] Ogden, I have a season to get ready for. I think that is the most important thing."