DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If he wasn't playing for Team Canada, Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey would have to settle for whatever playing time he could get after the starters get their at-bats, splitting what's left with the rest of those competing for a spot on the roster.Instead, he's expected to
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If he wasn't playing for Team Canada, Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey would have to settle for whatever playing time he could get after the starters get their at-bats, splitting what's left with the rest of those competing for a spot on the roster.
Instead, he's expected to get at least five games straight as a starter -- two exhibitions and then at least three more in the first round of the World Baseball Classic. It's a chance for the 24-year-old, who opened the 2015 season as Toronto's everyday center fielder but spent most of last season at Triple-A Buffalo, to remind the Blue Jays of the promise they once saw in him.
So far, so good. He reached base four times, including two singles, scored a run and made a terrific diving catch in the bottom of the fifth inning on Tuesday. Best of all, he did it against the Blue Jays in Canada's 7-1 win at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
"I don't think I'm re-establishing anything," he said after the game. "I'm just going out there trying to show teams, and my team that I play for, what I can do. I feel like this is an opportunity that can only help. I don't see any negatives in doing it. And I'm trying to help Canada in the process. And hopefully it's more than five games."
Pompey reached in the first on a fielding error, in the second on a single to center, in the third on a slow roller in front of the plate and in the sixth on a leadoff walk.
"Part of my job is to get on base any way I can," he said. "I was lucky enough to get on with an error, but if I can get a walk, bunt hit, squeak one out any way I can, I'm going to try to do it."
Pompey said he didn't even want to talk to his Blue Jays teammates before the game, getting himself into the right frame of mind. And he admitted that his approach is different now that he's wearing a different uniform.
"I didn't even think about myself once," he said. "I just thought about what I can do to help the team. It's a little different than when you're trying to make the team in Spring Training. You just take the onus off yourself and focus on what needs to be done in that moment. That's kind of the approach I took, and that's the approach I'm going to take going forward."
Running into left-center and making a diving catch of Elmore's line drive provided some added satisfaction, too, because of the opponent.
"I know most of the guys since I've been here. Elmore likes to hit the ball the other way, and the ball kind of hit off the end of the bat towards left-center. I figured I was the only one with a chance to catch it, and I got close to it and I just pulled a Kevin Pillar," he said with a laugh.
"It was definitely cool to do it against the Blue Jays. I don't know how many chances I'm going to get to do that."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.