Dalton Pompey is relaxed. The anxiety starts to melt away when you let go of expectations. The stress lessens when baseball becomes about that game, that inning, that pitch.
When that starts to line up, the results, as the cliché goes, take care of themselves.
Pompey extended his hitting streak to four games Friday night with a two-out single in the third inning as the Buffalo Bisons dropped a 2-1 decision to the Rochester Red Wings at Coca-Cola Field. Starting the season in Triple A has been a welcome pace for the 23-year-old, who has spent the last two seasons on the professional baseball rollercoaster.
At this time last year, Pompey had made the Toronto Blue Jays roster out of spring training. It was a big deal for the young kid from Mississauga, Ontario, to make the Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Maybe too much of a big deal.
After a month, he was sent down to Buffalo. A month later, he went down to Double-A New Hampshire, before coming back to the Bisons in July and getting called up to the Blue Jays for their post-season run.
“Last year, I felt a lot more pressure,” Pompey said. “This year, I had a pretty good idea I was going to be coming (to Buffalo) and it was kind of relaxed. I knew what was going to happen, where I was going, so I could focus on that and use spring training to get me ready for the season instead of coming in, competing for a job and putting all my efforts into that. I started the season in Toronto and I’m already gassed. I feel like I already had a whole season under my belt instead of getting ready for it.”
It’s all part of the learning curve for Pompey, who has speed in the outfield to make defensive plays and speed on the bases to create offense.
His potential has flashed at times in the Major Leagues, including stealing four bases for the Blue Jays in the post season as a pinch runner. But that’s what his time in the minor leagues is for – to turn flashes into the elusive quality of consistency.
“I think the biggest difference between us and guys in the big leagues is just consistency mentally and physically,” Pompey said. “Showing up, being able to be the same guy on the field, the same guy at the plate. You may not get the results all the time but at least you feel consistent with your swing, your approach, and then even mentally showing up every day, no matter what happened the day before.”
What happened the day before, or even the at-before, is ancient history in baseball. As Pompey has learned to relax, the possibilities in his game begin to grow.
“If you have a couple bad games, it’s not the end of the world. Because it can turn around just like that,” Pompey said. “I don’t really have any expectations. Last year, it was kind of like, ‘OK, I want to be here. And I’m not here. I’m here, so now what?’
“Now, I’m just day by day. I set daily goals of what I want to accomplish and kind of go from there and I think that’s really helped me with less anxiety and stress when I play.”