Dalton Pompey has been put through the wringer over the last four years. After sustaining three concussions since 2016, undergoing numerous false starts and suffering from bad luck in general, nobody in the Blue Jays organization has endured more misfortune than Pompey.
Ever since he broke camp as the Blue Jays starting centre fielder at the beginning of the 2015 season, he’s struggled to find his place within the organization. In retrospect, it may have been too much too soon for Pompey in April of 2015, but it sounds like his teammates weren’t exactly the best support system for a struggling rookie of his ilk.
Stephen Brunt mentioned this every-so-briefly last week during Prime Time Sports (hat tip to @QuadAPlayer for catching this). The subject was broached as part of a discussion with ESPN’s Jeff Passan about whether rushing prospects to the Major Leagues too quickly can stunt their development. Pompey was posed as the prime example.
Unbeknownst to just about everybody, Brunt revealed that Pompey was the subject of ridicule by his own teammates in early 2015.
“I can tell you that he was a deer in the headlights. He was bullied in the clubhouse and because of it, left here in shock and never came back, really.”
This is extremely disappointing for any number of reasons. It’s 2019 and this type of behaviour shouldn’t be tolerated in any work environment, let alone an atmosphere which is traditionally saturated with toxic masculinity.
Knowing this about Pompey now, it’s no wonder he struggled in the early part of 2015. Yes, he looked lost in the outfield at times, but by no means does that warrant being bullied by other players in the locker room. If anything, teammates should reach out to rookies and try to help them improve their game, not belittle them for their flaws.
This revelation also points towards something Kevin Pillar brought up just after he was traded away to the San Francisco Giants. We broke down his cryptic comments here, but the gist is that he didn’t paint a very “all-for-one, one-for-all” atmosphere most people believed was ever-present with the Blue Jays.
In fact, there were some other telling quotes from Pillar (hat tip to @Greappleton for finding this) from back in February when he spoke about the type of leader he wanted to be in the Blue Jays clubhouse this year. Pillar suggested he wasn’t a fan of how matters were conducted in the past.
“I think it’s just overall ways about guys, whether it’s the way they talked to guys, or the way they treated guys, or the way they went about holding team meetings. Not to say that I didn’t agree with them, it just maybe isn’t something that I’m comfortable doing, maybe not my style.”
The key quote here is “the way they talked to guys, or the way they treated guys, or the way they went about holding team meetings”. This falls in line with what Brunt reported about Pompey.
You can hazard a guess as to which player(s) Pillar was referring to, but if you’ll recall, after a late-game loss in May of 2015, Josh Donaldson openly ridiculed his teammates by saying, “It’s not the ‘try league’, it’s the ‘get it done’ league. Eventually, they’re going to find people who are going to get it done”.
Not to say this situation was unique to the Blue Jays. There’s a hierarchy within any clubhouse in professional sports, but from everything we’ve heard this year about what things were like in Toronto a few years back, it was anything but comfortable for players like Pompey and Pillar.
The only reason we’re hearing about it now? Because the Jays played .676 baseball in the second half of 2015 and rode that wave to Game 6 of the ALCS. Success often sweeps these controversies under the rug.
Whatever happened to Pompey, it’s not fair that he was the subject of ridicule by his own teammates. Playing under the bright lights of the big leagues is tough enough at 22 years old. Having fellow players confirm your own insecurities surely made a high-pressure environment feel impossible to manage.
Here’s hoping all the best for Pompey in his recovery and that no one else in the Blue Jays clubhouse ever has to experience what he did. Regardless of what happens on the field, nobody deserves to be treated like that.