Starter or reliever? Thompson good either way
Blue Jays right-hander believes his advantage is being prepared to serve any role
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right hander Zach Thompson still isn't sure what his role will be with the Blue Jays this season.
Thompson is still in the running for the final spot in the rotation, but by all accounts, left-hander Yusei Kikuchi has put himself in position to open the 2023 season as a starter. That could leave Thompson as a potential long reliever or possibly opening the season with Triple-A Buffalo and waiting for a callup.
It's a situation that Thompson believes will get settled soon, possibly in the next few days.
"Right now, I'm just working with whatever they want me to do," said Thompson, who yielded four runs on five hits with zero walks and three strikeouts over three innings in the Blue Jays’ 7-4 loss to the Orioles on Thursday at Ed Smith Stadium.
"Starting, relieving. … I really don't care. I think that's a conversation we're going to have here soon."
Thompson believes his mental makeup can help him be successful in either role. He wants to stay ready and not get too comfortable as a long reliever or a starter on the back end, because things can change quickly.
"I think the challenge is finding a routine with one of the two," Thompson said. "But I think that's something I thrive on because I really don't have a routine.
"I thrive in unexpected roles and you can just kind of throw me out there. "If you need me to come out of the ‘pen and give you four or five [innings], I can do that, if you need me to start, I can and I will."
Thompson said his second start and his sixth spring appearance against the O’s gave him a chance to fine-tune some of his pitches.
"Overall, I know the results weren't great, but I made a lot of good pitches that we've been working on," he said. "I was trying to work on my changeup today, so I threw that in some counts that I normally wouldn't in a game.
"You're still trying to compete and trying to win the game, but it's also spring so you really need to make sure you're getting the pitches that you need to get down."
After giving up a pair of runs in the second inning, it looked like Thompson was in a good spot to escape the third, but he left a cutter up in the zone and Austin Hays sent it over the left-center-field wall for a two-run homer.
"It was a cutter that I missed," Thompson said. "I threw a fastball the pitch before and the cutter was right in the same spot."
Thompson didn't say whether he would throw that pitch in a regular season game, but it's safe to assume he might have a different approach.
"Sometimes it's more fun to throw pitches to guys that you shouldn't be throwing," Thompson said. "It makes it a little more challenging."