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Game is fun again for Herd’s Pompey

Growing up in suburban Toronto, Dalton Pompey watched the Toronto Blue Jays make roster moves.

As a kid, he didn’t understand why some players were constantly changing.

As a 21-year-old prospect, he’s learning the process first hand.

Pompey spent last season rising through the Blue Jays organization – from Class-A to the Major Leagues.

This year, his trajectory was reversed, making Toronto’s Opening Day roster only to find himself back in Double-A New Hampshire in June.

Friday night he returned to Triple-A, playing center field and batting second for the Buffalo Bisons.

He went 1 for 4 with a single to right field for the Herd in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Clippers at Coca-Cola Field.

“I’m not too concerned with getting hits anymore,” Pompey said. “I just want to compete and I tell myself every day if I can get myself four or five solid at-bats a day and whatever happens, happens. I can live with that. It’s just when you constantly throw at-bats away or swing at bad pitches, then the onus is on yourself.”

His time in Double-A helped move his numbers in the right direction.

In 23 games to start the season with the Blue Jays, he hit .193 and was optioned to Buffalo.

With the Bisons he played 23 games hitting .209 and was transferred to Double-A New Hampshire.

With the FisherCats, he hit .351 in 31 games, driving in 22 runs with six homers and seven stolen bases.

Pompey credits working with New Hampshire hitting coach Stubby Clapp with helping him adjust his mental approach at the plate.

“It was a good environment for me, going back with a lot of guys I’ve played with in the past,” Pompey said of his time with the FisherCats. “They know me and I know them and they constantly had my back down there. I was working with Stubby Clapp ... and he really preached the mental side of the game. I think the thing that was huge for me was not so much physical adjustments I made, it was just approach and certain situations and timing and stuff like that. I did well when I was there and I’m looking to translate that here.”

While Pompey would like to contribute with a healthy batting average, he understands his value is more than just hits. And Bisons manager Gary Allenson wants to reinforce the many ways in which Pompey can contribute.

“We had that talk today about not riding that rollercoaster,” Allenson said. “If you don’t get hits in a couple of games, you can’t get down on yourself. Just play the game. If you don’t get hits, then your defense gets better. He can do some things to help you win. He doesn’t have to get a hit although I know he wants to and I’d like him to. But he’s a guy that can steal a base, go first to third, first to home and run down some balls in the outfield.”

Most of all, Allenson wants Pompey to relax and enjoy the game, something the outfielder rekindled back in Double-A.

“You know what, it was a Cinderella story last year, A-ball to the Big Leagues and you go to your hometown team so there’s a lot of added pressure there,” Allenson said. “He’s just got to forget about that. That’s in the past. Just play the game and have fun. Sometimes we tend to put a little too much pressure on ourselves instead of going out and playing that kid’s game.”

“I think that’s a big thing that happened in Double-A. I just tried to have fun again,” Pompey said. “I felt like I was pressing at times and trying to do too much. I just tried to have fun with the guys and go out and play the game because it is a game at the end of the day.”