Dalton Pompey kept wrinkling a candy wrapper in his pocket.
"Sorry," he said. "I'm nervous."
He was nervous during the post-game interview, but the outfielder finally felt relaxed back on the baseball field. Pompey made his first start with the Buffalo Bisons Sunday afternoon after being optioned from the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.
Pompey went 0 for 3 drawing one walk and was steady in center field for the Herd in their 3-2 win over Louisville at Coca-Cola Field.
"I felt good. I felt relaxed probably for the first time in a long time," Pompey said. "I was just able to go out and play. I didn’t feel any pressure. It felt good. It was good to get out with the guys and pull out that victory. It was fun. It was fun to be a part of."
Pompey's last stop in Buffalo was a brief 12-game stint at the end of the 2014 season. He rocketed through the Blue Jays system last season, starting in Single-A Dunedin then playing in Double-A New Hampshire up to Triple-A Buffalo and earning his first Major League promotion as part of the Blue Jays' September call-ups.
The Mississauga native made the Blue Jays Opening Day roster out of spring training and was the team's starting center fielder. Pompey thought he was ready, but a series of iffy defensive play coupled with a .193 batting average proved otherwise.
"I’m not going to lie. There was a little bit of pressure on myself as well as from outside sources, whether it’s friends, family, media, whatever," Pompey said. "I feel like that just comes with it but for me, personally, being from there, it was a lot. I can come here and refocus, get my mind right and hopefully do good things and get back up there and help the team win."
He may be rookie with promise, but he's also a rookie with quite a bit of honesty and perspective.
"I understand, too, I kinda flew through the minor league system," Pompey said. "Last year I went really fast and they put me in the situation where I come into the big leagues and am the starting center fielder. I thought I was ready mentally, but maybe so much so experience wise I wasn’t. ... You know I’m not bitter at all. I’m actually here to work. I want to get better because I’m only 22 years old and there’s a lot that can come from that."
His goal with the Bisons is to improve his swing and approach to at-bats, build his confidence and work his way back to Toronto.
"I felt sometimes when I was up there, I was swinging at too many bad pitches," Pompey said. "Just refocus. Focus on every pitch. I think mainly just getting my swing right and getting my confidence back. Have some good games, put some good games together, try to help the team win. Try not to do too much and I think I’ll be OK."