TORONTO -- Dalton Pompey, who was working his way back from a third concussion he sustained during Spring Training, was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on Tuesday after he was reinstated from the 60-day injured list.
The 26-year-old outfielder, who was on a Major League rehab assignment that expired Monday, was out of options. Pompey will now have to clear waivers -- where all other teams would have a chance to claim him -- before Toronto can send him to the Minors.
“I’m always pulling for guys,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “If somebody picks him up, it’s good for him [because] he goes to the big leagues. I’m always pulling for guys. But for me, because I liked the guy from the beginning. If he clears waivers, great. He can have at-bats in Triple-A, and he might be back here.”
Pompey was prepared in the spring, knowing when the season began that the Blue Jays would either have to add him to the big league roster or he might experience a change of scenery for the first time in his 10-year professional career. Though the inevitable was delayed when the native of Mississauga, Ontario, had his “bell rung” after a collision with a stack of bats.
“In Spring Training, I knew my role -- it was going to be coming off the bench, pinch-running, defense. That was when they still had [Kevin] Pillar,” Pompey said. “Then, obviously I got hurt, they traded him -- and people are going to say what they’re going to say, but everything happens for a reason in my mind.
Pompey was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 16th round out of high school in 2010. Four years later, an incredible season saw the speedy switch-hitting outfielder climb from Class A Advanced Dunedin to the big leagues, where he debuted at 21 years old. Since then, he’s been up and down -- fighting injuries and trying to find consistency on the field.
“It’s been like the roller coaster Behemoth at [Canada’s] Wonderland,” Pompey said. “Nonstop ups and downs -- and they’re not just highs, they’re really highs and then really lows. But it’s all part of the journey. One day, I’m going to look back and be like, 'I wish this would have changed, I’m not happy this happened.' But nobody’s career goes exactly the way they want.
“It’s not always about how you start, it’s about how you finish. So hopefully I can finish off strong, whenever that is. It could be 10 years from now, it could be two years from now. I want to enjoy it.”
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Though it was difficult during those lowest of low points, Pompey eventually began to view those moments as learning experiences, trying to focus on the positives and be grateful for what he has done instead of what he hasn’t.
“Just looking at all the guys that I’ve played with coming up -- being in Florida, GCL, Dunedin, what have you -- there are so many guys who play baseball who have never gotten to the position I’ve gotten to,” he said. “So I have to take a step back and realize I’m lucky that [I’ve been able] to do what I’ve done and continue to do what I’ve been doing. That’s the mindset I’ve taken.”
Over the last decade, Pompey’s mindset has been the one aspect of his game that has evolved the most. He hopes that sharing his experiences with some of his younger teammates might help them with the learning curve on the mental side of the game.
“When you’re coming up when you’re younger, it’s, ‘I want to get to the next level, I want to get to Lansing, I want to get to Dunedin, I want to get to the big leagues,’” Pompey said. “But now, you want to stay in the big leagues. So how do you stay in the big leagues?
“That’s what I try to tell all the younger guys. ‘You guys want to get there fast, but I got there fast and I’ve been up and down ever since. I’d rather wait two or three years, be ready -- and then when I get there, I’m staying.’”
Pompey will now have to find out what’s next for him and keep looking forward to what lies ahead.
“As a baseball player -- or any professional athlete, for that matter -- you understand you’re probably not going to spend your whole career with one team,” he said. “Very few guys are lucky enough to do that."