A.J. Pollock is ready to make his long awaited return tonight at Chase Field
On Thursday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks optioned outfielder Mitch Haniger to Triple-A Reno and made room on the 25-man roster for A.J. Pollock.
The 28-year-old center fielder makes his 2016 season debut Friday night. That’s when the Diamondbacks entertain the Cincinnati Reds in game one of a weekend series at Chase Field. His position in the lineup has not been announced.
Pollock has been out since fracturing his right elbow during an exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals on April 1st.
When asked about why the organization would want to bring a core piece for 2017 back after a serious elbow injury during a lost season, manager Chip Hale said, why not?
“He’s healthy as can be,” Hale said. “If we weren’t sure he’s 100-percent healthy, we wouldn’t bring him back. But it’s hard to be a baseball player or any athlete and miss a whole season of your sport. And he’s got plenty of games left to play.”
Hale said the plan is to play Pollock two days in a row and then give him a day off. His return will effect the playing time of other outfielders such as Michael Bourn, Brandon Drury, and Yasmany Tomas.
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Pollock finished his rehab assignment at the rookie ball, Single-A, and Triple-A levels on Wednesday night with the Reno Aces. In 40 at-bats, he hit .425 with three home runs, 12 RBI, five doubles, and an OPS of 1.285. He walked seven times and struck out twice.
Aces manager Phil Nevin has raved about Pollock’s play saying he looks better than he was before the injury.
Based on wins above replacement, only Paul Goldschmidt was more valuable to the Diamondbacks in 2015 than A.J. Pollock. In 157 games, Pollock hit .315 with 20 home runs and 76 RBI. In addition, he stole 39 bases, and his .992 fielding percentage earned him his first career Gold Glove.
It remains to be seen how much Pollock will be able to contribute at the plate. The most important thing is that he is back and healthy. Expect a different level of energy in Chase Field on Friday night.
Before he was optioned, Haniger hit .237 with six RBI and two doubles in 10 games with the D-backs. He played sound defense during his first stint in the majors, and impressed the coaching staff.
When rosters expand in September, expect him to be be back with the big-league club.
The Diamondbacks still need to make room for Pollock on the 40-man roster.
The easiest way to do this is to move David Peralta from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Peralta underwent season-ending surgery on his right wrist earlier this month.
The final series of this seven game home stand begins Friday night. Look for right-hander Braden Shipley (2-3, 5.45 ERA) to oppose Reds’ lefty Brandon Finnegan (8-9, 4.32 ERA). On Saturday night, a pair of right-handers will square off. Zack Godley (4-2, 5.53 ERA) takes on Anthony DeSclafani (7-2, 3.72 ERA). Look for Archie Bradley (4-8, 5.06 ERA) and Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.73 ERA) to start in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.