If you’ve been following our new project, you know that we’re branching out to bring you the best Blue Jays coverage out there. To that end, we’ve established our new Google Hangout/ podcast show, Jays’ Nest. As always, you can find our podcasts on iTunes. This week, we were joined by Dan Hughes from SodoMojo.com and Jason Rolllison from RumBunter.com. As if that weren’t enough, our show was highlighted by the appearance of Blue Jays CF, Dalton Pompey!
We started off our 4th episode (Video and Audio below) by chatting to Dan about the newly acquired Michael Saunders and even touched on Justin Smoak a bit too. Dan had very good things to say about Saunders who seemed to have a bit of a falling out with the Seattle Mariners. Apparently, his work ethic was called into play, but Dan told us that Saunders will bust his butt for the Toronto Blue Jays. In fact, he may play with an extra chip on his shoulder to prove the Mariners wrong.
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Having said that, his health continues to be a concern for fans of Saunders and it is not quite clear just how he will fare on the turf at Rogers Centre. New or not. But, if he can maintain his health, Dan says we are looking at a potential All Star AND even a potential Gold Glove candidate. Hello! Of course, that refers more to the ability that Saunders brings than what Dan is saying we should expect. Interestingly enough, Dan also tells us that Saunders’ value lies more in right field as opposed to left, where Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos envisions him. Sadly for Saunders, that spot is taken.
As for Smoak, let’s just say that Mariners fans are glad to be rid of him. He came over in the Cliff Lee trade from a few years ago and has been a major disappointment since. He does have the potential for 20 HR, though, which may be rather appealing if he can provide his above average defense at first base should the Blue Jays need him to.
The conversation with Jason didn’t start off so well as he expressed his resentment at having Russell Martin leave his beloved Pirates. However, he was quickly subdued by the reminiscing of what Martin actually brought to his team. It was nice to get to hear a fan’s perspective of all of the “intangible” things we keep hearing that Martin will bring to the Blue Jays. Sometimes, we need to hear what a players brings outside of the statistics that go flying around us.
Something interesting that came out of this discussion was the amount of playing time Martin may actually be looking at. Jason told us that Sunday’s were “No Russell Martin Days” at PNC Park last season. While that was more a joke more than an actual event in Pittsburgh, it was meant to show us that there were regular days of rest for the backstop, which could have led to his success at the plate. If that holds true, it could mean a sufficient amount of playing time for Dioner Navarro. And, if Martin can come close to catching the knuckleball from R.A. Dickey, we could be looking at the end for Josh Thole.
Of course, the highlight of the show was the appearance by Dalton Pompey. After some technical difficulties, which led to some pretty good discussion about the Kevin Pillar/ Pompey situation, Pompey came on and impressed the “room”. He expressed himself in a manner far beyond his years. He struck us as a mature, humble veteran in the way he handled the questions and provided thoughtful responses.
Some of the topics he discussed were his development, his mental approach, what he is focussing on to improve and his spot in the lineup. He addressed his rapid climb through the organization by suggesting that his health played a big part in him being able to get enough reps to really hone his craft. After injuries in 2011 and 2012, he felt that getting regular time in 2013 allowed him to take off in 2014.
Once he did take off, he climbed four levels all the way to Toronto. Once there, he was greeted by several younger players. But, he said that he really looks up to and follows the example of Jose Bautista as he prepares for games and conducts himself. Part of his Spring Training preparation will include working on his defensive skills. While he won a minor league Gold Glove for his play in 2013, he told us that he is working on his throwing angle and his footwork. What is striking is that Pompey accepts all of the things he needs to work on and is not resting with his previous success.
He’s a well spoken, mild mannered man who insists that the key to success if believing in yourself. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.
As always, feel free to leave your comments below.