Dalton Pompey was impressive last night in his return to the Toronto Blue Jays
Kevin Pillar is the Toronto Blue Jays‘ everyday centre fielder. This simple fact won’t change in the foreseeable future, but the return of Dalton Pompey will quietly renew the competition to captain the outfield.
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Making his first MLB appearance since early May as a pinch runner in yesterday’s dramatic 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians, Pompey quickly reminded fans why he was the favourite to hold the everyday centre fielder role coming out of spring training. Pompey was a game changer on the base paths, stealing second base and third base before coming home on a Pillar sacrifice fly.
The run restored Toronto’s lead at the time and showed what a dynamic offence can accomplish against one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. Unfortunately, the Jays surrendered that hard-fought lead in the top of the ninth inning when Yan Gomes hit his second home run of the game, but the mighty bat of Ryan Goins would return the universe to peace with a two-run blast in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Apr 26, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Dalton Pompey (45) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Manager John Gibbons will be hesitant to mess with a winning lineup, but it will be interesting to see how he manages the Pompey-Pillar competition over the coming weeks and into the post-season. For now, Pillar has earned the everyday job in centre fielder with an improved bat and highlight reel glove, but Pompey remains the long-term favourite to hold the title and if he presents more offensive options for the Jays, Gibbons might be pressured to play Pompey in place of Pillar down the stretch.
Right field belongs solely to Jose Bautista while the Jays improved their left field defence and offence through the acquisition of Ben Revere. This leaves centre field as the only real position open to both Pompey and Pillar. Another alternative would see the Jays rest Pillar and Bautista down the stretch in anticipation of a long playoff run with Pompey picking up the slack, but this would also allow Pompey more opportunity to strut his stuff and doesn’t really foreclose the talk of renewed competition between the two young outfielders.
Whatever you might think about the situation in centre fielder, it’s always good to have two legitimate options on call. This speaks to the team’s current depth in outfield – depth that will be there for the next few seasons at a minimum. Both Pompey and Pillar will get their chances to impress the coaching staff over that span of time but I think it’s safe to say Pompey fired the first shot last night. It was a direct hit.
What do you think? Is it too early to jump into Pompey’s corner? Has Pillar earned the everyday spot this season? Could they platoon the position? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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