Wichita Wingnuts

Wingnuts ship Thompson to Quebec

Michael Thompson woke up in his own bed Saturday morning for probably the last time in about two months.

For many nights until late August, Thompson won't even be waking up in his home country, let alone his hometown.

The Wingnuts traded Thompson, their third baseman since the first game of their inaugural 2008 season, to Quebec of the Can-Am league, one of many transactions the team made Saturday. Thompson will fly to Canada on Monday.

In exchange for Thompson, the Wingnuts received third baseman Michael Bell, who has spent most of his disappointing season with Fort Worth.

"I was shocked," Thompson said. "I didn't really suspect anything to be happening like that. But I understand as much as anybody else how much of a business baseball is and you have to make moves that are going to help you. I trust that that's what they did, and hopefully it will be a good situation for everybody."

Thompson, who moved to Wichita in 2008 and lives here with his fiancee, is one of two Wingnuts players, along with first baseman Stephen Pearson, who have been with the team since the first day of the first season. Thompson is the team's leader in games played with 242.

The 26-year-old Thompson hasn't been as productive at the plate this season. After combining for 81 extra-base hits the last two seasons, he had seven in 181 at-bats before the trade.

Though his average hovered around .300, he wasn't the power threat he was in the past and his range at third has weakened in part because he arrived at spring training slightly overweight.

"It was time, and I think it was past time," Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper said. "The change of scenery for our team and for him individually, it's going to be a good situation."

The 26-year-old Thompson doesn't believe the comfort of his life in Wichita has contributed to his relative lack of production.

In 2009, Thompson had 20 of his 32 doubles after July 14, and between July 9 and August 25, he hit .333 to raise his average from .232 to .279.

"I never got comfortable," Thompson said. "It was enjoyable for me to be at home and play in the town I live in, but sometimes that's not always the plan that's in mind for you."

Bell could similarly benefit from a change of scenery. He entered the season with a strong track record from his days in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, but his 2010 numbers are well off his career marks.

After reaching double-digits in home runs the last four seasons and owning a .269 career average, the 25-year-old Bell batted .214 with one home run in 131 at-bats with Fort Worth. He is a former teammate of Wingnuts outfielder Ryan Patterson.

"I know he's scuffled early this year at Fort Worth, but I know he's capable of doing some good things," Hooper said. "I know he's going to be great defensively for us."

The Wingnuts on Saturday also released Clint McKeever and traded Doug Hurn to Fort Worth to complete an earlier trade for Patterson. Wichita filled those spots by signing relievers David Jensen and J.R. Boling.

Those moves weren't as emotional for Hooper as letting go of the player who shared the left side of the infield with him in 2008.

"I love Mike Thompson as a person," Hooper said. "We get along great as friends. This has nothing to do with our friendship. This is a business move for us right now and we're going to change things a little bit and see what happens."