Dalton Pompey is on the cusp of beginning a minor league rehab assignment, and hopefully he’ll be healthy and ready for one more shot in Toronto.
When the Blue Jays entered spring training, one of the biggest question marks for me was whether they would keep Billy McKinney on the big league roster, who had options, or if they would designate Dalton Pompey for assignment if they decided not to keep him on the opening day roster.
Unfortunately, the front office never had to make that decision, as Pompey was placed on the injured list after a freak accident that led to another concussion for the talented outfielder. This time it was some bats falling on his head from the top of a locker. Some guys just can’t catch a break.
Thankfully, Pompey is that he’s finally healthy enough that he is going to start a rehab assignment in the minor leagues at some point next week, which is great news for the player, and potentially for the team.
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Back in March, I was one of many writers who were talking about this would probably be Pompey’s last shot to grab a starting role or even a roster spot with the Blue Jays, mostly because he was out of minor league options. He’s also been in the system for quite some time, and eventually either he or the team would move on if things just aren’t working out.
I’ll admit that I was very bummed out when Pompey went down with another concussion in March, for a couple of reasons. First, you can’t help but feel for the man who has had repeated injury issues since becoming a professional, and after a serious concussion during the World Baseball Classic in 2017, it’s really important that he and the Blue Jays’ medical staff make sure that he’s ready to play again, and even that he’s fit to continue his career. Health has to be the most important thing.
Secondly though, this seemed like a prime opportunity for Pompey to grab a role in the Blue Jays’ outfield. At his best, he projects to have the type of skill set that this team has been missing for quite some time. He would be a defensive asset in centre field, a threat on the basepaths, and a switch-hitter who could have fit at the top of the lineup, or as the number nine hitter to roll the lineup over nicely.
When you consider that the Blue Jays have been on what feels like an endless search for a suitable outfield, it’s an even bigger shame that Pompey hasn’t been able to seize the opportunity. That said, I wouldn’t exactly say that the Blue Jays’ outfield has been established yet, even if Lourdes Gurriel Jr. now has a firm hold on the left field job. Randal Grichuk is going to play in one of the other two spots, but he’s better off in right field.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Teoscar Hernandez and I wish the best for him throughout his career, but does anyone really think he’s the long term solution in centre field for the Blue Jays? I didn’t think so.
Maybe Pompey has an equally long shot at establishing himself in the same role, but I don’t feel like we’ve had a consistent enough sample size to really see what he can do at the highest level. You never want to see injuries, especially concussions, take away someone’s career, and I’m really hoping that he’ll finally get that opportunity after his rehab stint. We’ll find out soon enough.