Sometimes, those first few days of spring training can be rough. Guys are looking to get back into the flow of games, working on specific skills, and not necessarily looking for results. When that happens, the beginning product can be a lot different from what actually hits the shelves when the season starts.
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Now, I know we should pump the brakes a bit and understand that this is preseason play and just two games into it for that matter, so we can take the results with a grain of salt. However, we also understand that Pompey and Pillar are in competition in camp, not just with each other but with the expectations that will be laid upon them by the fans expecting them to step up into their roles in 2015.
With that in mind, it is encouraging to see the two of them embracing this chance and coming into Spring Training on a mission to leave everything on the field. Pompey is the early favorite to be the starter in center field this season, and Pillar is expected to be the placeholder in left until Michael Saunders returns, but the Blue Jays are making a point of getting a look at both players in multiple outfield positions, giving the team flexibility when a decision needs to be made.
So far, both players are making the choices difficult for John Gibbons. In two games, Dalton Pompey is 3 for 5 with a double and a stolen base. While he lost a fly ball in left on Tuesday, he made up for that with a veteran play on Wednesday, nabbing Josh Harrison on a nifty deke play, doubling him off of second base on Wednesday. He also had a beauty of a sliding grab on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Pillar hasn’t been outdone on either side of the ball. He made a beautiful diving catch in the gap on Wednesday, robbing Steve Lombardozzi of a base hit. He followed that up with an RBI double, adding that to the 2-run home run he hit on Monday.
With the absence of Michael Saunders to start the season, the Blue Jays will rely heavily on the combination of Pillar and Pompey to provide a lift in the outfield. Defensively, the two will have no problem holding their own in the outfield, as both have shown solid fielding skills. The only question marks are whether they can hit Major League pitching, and do so consistently. If the two can acclimate themselves to everyday roles quickly, the Blue Jays could put to bed one of the biggest questions revolving around the bottom of the batting order.
Even taken with a grain of salt, early results are very encouraging.