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Dalton Pompey speaks about his concussion experience

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Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

It was in the bottom of the ninth of game one of June 18’s triple-A doubleheader between the Buffalo Bisons and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs when Bisons left fielder Dalton Pompey ran full-speed in an attempt to catch a Logan Moore pop fly.

Moore’s high popup was about to drift into the stands but Pompey caught up to it and secured it in his glove; however while doing that, the Blue Jays prospect crashed into a wall that was made of a little bit of padding and a lot of concrete. Pompey was knocked down immediately, but still was aware enough to throw the ball back in to prevent the runner on first from advancing past second base.

Dalton Pompey crashes into the left field wall after catching a popup.
GIF captured from MiLB.tv video footage.

Pompey remained down on the ground for about 20 seconds before being helped up by his teammates. Manager Gary Allenson and trainer Voon Chong ran out to check on him but after answering a few questions—"how are you feeling? do you feel weird? did you lose consciousness?". After the initial diagnostics were completed he was allowed to stay in the game for the final two outs. He looked fine fielding a single hit to left later that inning, and later on he would say that he still felt fine at that point.

But the crash had injured his brain. He just didn’t realize it at the time. But his mom, Val Pompey, was immediately worried.

Val saw the collision as it happened because she happened to be watching her son play on the online streaming service MiLB.tv.

"It was scary to watch. He seemed ok right afterwards but I texted him right away to let us know how he was doing," Val told me via a text message. Getting back into the clubhouse after the Bisons hung on to win the game, Dalton replied to his mom saying he felt fine.

Some time during the three or so hours between the two games, Pompey was sitting down in the visitors’ clubhouse with his head tilted up watching a TV that hung down from the ceiling. All of a sudden, he started feeling ill and decided to move from the chair.

"As soon as I got up, the dizziness hit me like I thought I was going to throw up," Pompey said in an interview last Saturday in Buffalo, "that’s when I knew I had to tell someone."

"[The crash] wasn’t painful at all. It was one of those things where I felt fine, like any other time. [But] all of a sudden I just didn’t feel like myself and usually that never happens. Usually I feel fine and I go play the rest of the game with no issues."

"For a week I couldn’t keep the lights on [at home]. It was that bad."-Dalton Pompey, on his concussion symptoms

He was immediately scratched from the second game and was placed on the seven-day minor league disabled list the next day. Pompey blew through the minimum seven days off, needing more than two weeks before his symptoms decreased to a point where he could resume activities. Whenever the Bisons were at home during that period, he would still go to the field every day, but he wasn’t able do any physical training or baseball activities. He would end up taking almost three weeks before he returned for game action.

Pompey counted nine symptoms from the concussions including dizziness, nausea, difficulty in concentration, headaches, a general sense of not "feeling right," and extreme sensitivity to light.

"For a week I couldn’t keep the lights on [at home]. It was that bad."

What frustrated Pompey was that it was another injury—after suffering from turf toe towards the end of spring training—where he couldn’t just work harder to rehab and return faster. He just had to hope that he would feel better when he got up the next day and thankfully he thinks he is getting back to being 100% physically.

Val felt that, as a parent, there was a huge difference between seeing her son get a joint sprain and a concussion.

"Both are injuries that can take you out of the game for awhile, but concussions can be everlasting," Val said by text. "As a parent, you don’t want any injuries, but head injuries are very scary!"

When I saw him play in last Saturday, coincidentally against the IronPigs, he appeared to run the bases and patrol centrefield with the same speed we have been used to expect from him. Physically, Pompey described that his body as a whole was feeling "pretty good," so he is turning his focus to his at bats.

"It’s going to take time for me to get my timing back. It’s always frustrating [when] I’m in the lineup but then something happens like I get hurt then I’m out of it. It just feels like all season I’ve been trying to get my timing going."

Pompey had his season interrupted again after last Sunday, but this time it was because of the triple-A all-star game. He'll look to resume play later today (in Lehigh Valley of all places) where hopefully he would have a softer encounter with the outfield walls.

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Patriotic Duty: While still on the disabled list recovering from his concussion, Dalton Pompey still was able to help the Blue Jays. When Michael Saunders was announced as a candidate on the MLB All-Star Game "Final Vote" ballot, Pompey got a call from Saunders, who drafted him into the campaign team by playing the patriotism card.

Saunders, who is not on social media, knew that he could reach more people by tapping Pompey’s Instagram account, which has over 55,000 followers.

"He reached out to me and said ‘it’s not everyday that guys can go to an all-star game, especially Canadians," Pompey reported. Pompey immediately backed Saunders and was thrilled for him when he won the final vote.

Ball of the Foot: It was during his (left) turf toe injury—a condition from which Jose Bautista is still recovering—that Pompey found a new appreciation for a part of his anatomy.

"You don’t realize how much you need the ball of your foot," Pompey said.

"You have to do everything off the ball of your foot—you have to run, you have to push off. In the field you have to push off without thinking about it. You’ve gotta stop on a dime without thinking about it. Every time I planted [batting] right-handed it just killed."

* * *

Transaction Wednesday: With the triple-A International League and double-A Eastern Leagues having their respective all-star breaks yesterday, the Blue Jays made a bunch of moves within their organization. Shoutout goes to the Twitter account @BlueJaysMoves for cataloging all of them in one place so I could compile them quickly into a table.

Transaction Wednesday

In addition to these moves:

  • 1B Gabriel Clark (most recently of the Vancouver Canadians) was released.
  • RHP Felix Cornelius and IF Jose Theran were assigned to the DSL Blue Jays.