After playing the last four months of the 2015 season with a partially torn thumb ligament, Braves second baseman Jace Peterson is pain-free and eager to get going again at spring training.
Peterson injured his right thumb diving for a ball during a road series against the Dodgers May 25-27. He was on a hitting surge at the time and continued to hit well for another few weeks after the injury, but his performance declined sharply by late June.
He struggled offensively for the rest of the season, with only scattered periods of good production. Neither Peterson nor the Braves said anything publicly about the extent of his injury during the season.
Peterson only addressed the issue Saturday at FanFest when asked about it by a reporter, after teammate Freddie Freeman mentioned the injury recently. Even then, Peterson seemed reluctant, not wanting to make it seem like he was making an excuse for his midseason offensive decline.
“It was torn,” he said. “I could play. It wasn’t good, but I could play.”
Asked how he hurt it, Peterson said, “I dove and it hit, and snapped.”
He was diagnosed with an 80-percent tear of a tendon in the thumb, and wore a cast on his arm for 1 ½ months after the season. That was followed by a short stint in a wrist cast. There was no surgery required.
“I let it heal on its own – it feels strong now,” said the Lake Charles, La., native, who rehabbed at the same hometown facility where Peterson, a former McNeese State University football player, recovered from knee surgery earlier in his career.
Peterson, 25, hit .239 with 34 extra-base hits (six home runs) and a .314 on-base percentage in 152 games (597 plate appearances). After hitting .309 with a .389 OBP and .426 slugging percentage in a 50-game stretch through June 21, he batted just .204 with a .274 OBP and .294 slugging over his final 87 games.
Last year was his first season with the Braves organization – he came from the Padres in the Justin Upton trade the previous winter – and his first full season in the major leagues. Peterson didn’t want to shut it down to let the injury heal. It would’ve taken a couple of months and might have ended his season altogether.
“I don’t really like to say it affected me” last season, Peterson said, “but it definitely wasn’t 100 percent. I’ll leave it at that.”