The Arizona Diamondbacks sustained a huge blow last night when All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow with a head-first slide into home plate during an exhibition game against the Kansas City Royals. Manager Chip Hale said Pollock would require surgery.
Pollock was to be a big part of a Diamondbacks team many were expecting to make great strides in 2016. Last year he was fantastic, hitting .315/.367/.498 with 20 homers, 39 doubles and 39 stolen bases all while playing Gold Glove defense in center field. This year, with Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt leading the offensive attack and Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller shoring up the pitching staff, many assumed the Dbacks would be playoff contenders.
Now that’s all uncertain, as one of the best players in the game will be on the shelf for an extended period of time. How much time? It’s unclear now. The Dbacks said they will know more about the extent of the fracture today but, for now, there is no timetable for his return. It’s worth noting that Pollock fractured the same elbow in spring training in 2010 and missed the entire season.
After the game, manager Chip Hale said “We feel awful for A.J. We’re a family. It’s like one of your family members taken away from you right now.” He also talked about the circumstances of the play, saying “If he goes feet-first, he’d be OK, but the problem is the way the play played out. If he goes feet-first, he might have gotten his leg broke by the catcher. It’s just unfortunate.”
Hale doesn’t have the luxury of dwelling on it, however, as Opening Day is Monday evening at home against the Rockies. For now 23-year-old Socrates Brito will likely replace Pollock. Brito has 18 games and 34 major league plate appearances under his belt. Apart from that late season call up, he has never played above Double-A. Chris Ownings could see some time covering for Pollock too. If Pollock is to miss the season and Brito proves insufficient, the DBacks could look to make a trade, of course.
Sad news all around. Here’s the play if you want to see it. It’s not graphic or gross or anything. Just really unfortunate.