By Melissa Verge
Canadian Baseball Network
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Dalton Pompey says he has one goal for 2018 -- to stay healthy.
It took two long months for Pompey to get to that point, months he says he didn’t feel at all like himself. The 25-year-old spent a lot of time in 2017 in the dark, sunglasses on, dealing with a concussion.
The Mississauga, Ont., native was injured last March at the World Baseball Classic when his face slammed into the dirt while stealing a base. Following that, concussion symptoms dragged on for more than two months for Pompey. Then, just after he came back in June, the outfielder suffered a knee injury playing for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
He hopes that this year will be different.
“If I’m not healthy, then I can’t help myself and I can’t help the team. That’s my main goal this year, that’s going to be my focus,” says Pompey.
Right now, he says he’s feeling good, and the concussion and knee injury he suffered last season are no longer bothering him.
“Everything’s good, [I’ve] been working out, [I’ve] been doing everything fine, there’s been no issues,” he says.
However, during the period of March 11 to May 20 last year, right after he suffered his concussion, things were not fine for him.
“I had a hard time remembering stuff,” he says. “I was always wearing sunglasses, I couldn’t watch TV, I couldn’t look at my phone. I didn’t know if I was ever going to feel better [and] feel like myself again.”
Although Pompey had suffered a concussion while running into a wall two years ago while playing for triple-A Buffalo, it was nothing like what he experienced then. That time, he was only out for three weeks. This time, it felt like time was passing by without any improvement.
“It just constantly didn’t get better,” he says. "It was that unknown factor that really just bothered me, just not knowing when I was going to feel better again."
He says that as time went on with no change, it was hard for his family, his friends and himself to understand what was going on.
“It’s not like a physical injury where people can see it’s a bone that going to heal, it's in my head,” he says. “You can’t see what’s in my head.”
Pompey says he reached out to Justin Morneau, also a Canadian, who suffered a concussion while playing against the Blue Jays in 2010 and had symptoms that lasted for years afterward.
“He was always there as a support system,” says Pompey. "He’s been through it, and I just recently saw him, so we talked about it. He just said to keep an eye out for some signs going forward, [and] if I feel anything that I should say something, because I still have to live the rest of my life.”
It was one morning Pompey says was around May 20 that he woke up and he just felt better, in what he describes as going from “zero to 100.” Coming back the first time into the clubhouse without his sunglasses he says it was a great feeling.
“Just from a human standpoint I just felt like a normal person again, I felt good,” he says.
Going into Spring Training this year, despite the injuries that hampered him last season, Pompey says he doesn’t feel like he has to impress the right people all over again.
“They kind of know what I can do,” he says. “I missed the whole year and I’m still here, so obviously they still value me in some sort of way.”