Arizona Diamondbacks – Pollock returns to game action
For A. J. Pollock, center-fielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the recovery from elbow surgery has been long and arduous
After telling reporters that the loss of A. J. Pollock, center-fielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks, was a bigger than expected, manager Chip Hale quickly switched gears. Confident Pollock will return before the end of the season, Hale is now ready to insert his All-Star into the line-up, and make sure Pollock does not wither until next February.
Given the unknown element of productivity Pollock can bring to the team, just the presence of this 2015 Gold Glove recipient should provide a spark to a team laden with despair and desolation. The injury sustained by Pollock, a fractured right elbow and shattered on the next-to-the-last pre-season game on April 1, was feared, and given the existing, fragile composition of his elbow, the possibility of a long-term damage was very real.
On the day after he shattered his elbow, Pollock met with the media and said he expected to play out his career with his existing elbow. Six years previously, Pollock sustained a season-ending injury to his right elbow, and the elbow never healed properly. In 2010, the year of the original injury, Pollock ended up playing only in the Arizona Fall League that September. While the operation allowed Pollock to play going forward, his elbow was not set correctly, and the possibility existed that, with freakish contact, his elbow could shatter at any time.
Sliding across the plate in a pre-season game with Kansas City in Chase Field on April 1, that’s exactly what happened. In an innocent swipe of the plate with his right hand, Pollock rolled over, and withered in pain. The elbow was smashed, and Pollock faced a protracted period of rehabilitation.
The first thought was a season-long malady, and at 28-years-old, that represented one critical, prime season in the middle of a productive career lost. In retrospect, and in light of Pollock’s comment that he thought he could complete his career with just the original surgery, there was not a thought to have surgery immediately right after the 2015 season.
“No one saw this, or knew this would happen,” said Hale before Friday’s game with Milwaukee at Chase Field. “Overall, he’s worked so hard, and it’s miraculous what he has done.”
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Pollock’s road to recovery began Friday night in Tempe Diablo Stadium. Playing for the rookie Arizona Diamondbacks against the Angels’ Arizona Rookie League team, Pollock was the DH, and Hale thought Pollock would get at least three at-bats in this game. Going forward, Pollock could begin to play for Double-A Mobile and then Triple-A Reno starting next week, and then a possible call to the major leagues. At this point, Hale thinks Pollock needs to simulate spring training, and that would include about a three to four-week rehab period.
If completed successfully, that would bring Pollock to join the Arizona Diamondbacks when major league rosters expand from the current 25-man roster to 40-man roster. Assuming Pollock is activated in Sept. 1, the day rosters expand, that would give him 29 games from Sept. 2 at Colorado to the finale, at home, on Oct. 2.
“It should be about three to four weeks for (Pollock), and then it will be amazing to see what he can do,” Hale said. “When his injury occurred, I thought, ‘there’s no chance he’d be back this year.’ When I saw the initial x-rays, I was scared to death.”
Hale said right-hander Shelby Miller threw seven shut-out innings Thursday in a 1-0 win over Salt Lake City. Miller allowed three hits, walked one and struck out eight and went the distance of seven innings. That was the first game of a doubleheader, and Hale indicated, “Miller threw well. His fast ball was sharp and the ball the ball was coming out his hand in good fashion.”
Hale said the evaluation process for Miller remains on-going, and the organization is not ready to set a time table for his return to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the major league level.
Next: Playing competitive baseball remains the priority
Elsewhere, shortstop Nick Ahmed, out since placed on the disabled list July 22 with right hip impingement, will see a specialist next week in New York. He will be in touch with a sports physician who treats hockey players with a similar injury. There is no timetable for Ahmed’s return, who was hitting .218 in 90 games when he went down.