Thompson enjoys life with Yankees

Eastern Shore native plays before family, friends in Baltimore

July 27, 2000|By J. Kimball C. Payne | J. Kimball C. Payne,SUN STAFF

Eastern Shore native and New York Yankees left fielder Ryan Thompson was happy to find himself in front of family and friends this week at Camden Yards as part of the Orioles-Yankees three-game series.

"I'm starting to play my game now," said Thompson who hails from Edesville just outside of Rock Hall. "It really helps when you're around your family sometimes."

Friends and relatives in attendance Tuesday night saw Thompson blast an eighth-inning, bases-empty home run off relief pitcher Alan Mills. Facing a 2-2 count, Thompson drove the pitch deep into the left-center field seats. Thompson went 2-for-4 to boost his batting average to .208 and help the Yankees win, 19-1.

Promoted by the Yankees on July 13, Thompson replaced injured left fielder Shane Spencer, who is out for the season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament he suffered July 9. Thompson said he was beginning to feel comfortable as a Yankee on the road. "[My family] told me when I was in New York it looked like I wasn't having any fun. And you can't play baseball well without having any fun."

Hoping to fill a hole on the team, Thompson acknowledged his limited role with the Yankees, a team already brimming with superstars.

"The organization is like a big puzzle, like a Picasso, and I'm like a little tiny piece fitting in down at the bottom along with all these other big pieces. And if I can do things well, then there is a chance for me to help a great team."

Yankees manager Joe Torre acknowledged that there was no doubt the team was searching for another outfielder to replace Spencer, but that a lot can happen in the next four or five days.

Thompson said while he understood the Yankees' situation, he could only worry about himself.

"I know what it feels like to be released, and I know what it feels like to get demoted. I understand all that. I don't take it personally.

"It's not my decision. I can only control what I do. I can't control what the coaches and all of them do upstairs."

Thompson, who went to Kent County High School, was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 1987 amateur draft.

He played regularly with the New York Mets from 1992 to 1995. He joined the Yankees farm club this year and batted .304 with 20 homers in 63 games before being called up.

"It's amazing how things work out for people," he said. "I'm getting a chance to play again, and that's a good thing."

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