The Diamondbacks appear to be on the verge of some much-needed good news, as manager Chip Hale suggested today that center fielder A.J. Pollock will likely be activated from the DL later this week. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted Hale’s comments.
Pollock’s season debut will come too late to help reverse a forgettable 2016 campaign. But it’s an enormous step for the organization, which entered the year with exceedingly high hopes only to fall into last place in the NL West.
For all the attention that has been paid to some questionable offseason decisions by the Arizona front office, there’s no doubt that the organization was trying to push its chips in to create a winner. The view was that a talented young core was worthy of supplementation.
Apart from star slugger Paul Goldschmidt, Pollock was the most important element in that assessment. He entered spring camp fresh off of a gem of a campaign in which he hit .315/.367/.498, popped twenty long balls and swiped 39 bags, and drew rave reviews with his glove in center. That not only made him one of the game’s best overall performers in 2015, but pushed his earning power up (resulting in a two-year, $10.25MM deal to buy out two of his three arbitration seasons) and created hopes of a sustained breakout for the season yet to come.
While the D-Backs’ chances at the postseason were more average than great to begin with, Pollock’s fractured elbow — which occurred just before the start of the season — dealt them a severe blow. Making things even worse, the team had dealt away its best remaining outfield defender (Ender Inciarte) in the deal to acquire Shelby Miller, stripping the team of a clear replacement up the middle.
The injury came with greater-than-usual long-term complications, too. Pollock previously missed an entire season of minor league action after fracturing his growth plate in the same elbow, and initial reports of his new injury suggested there was no known timeline for his return.
As it turns out, Pollock has seemingly fared somewhat better than might have been feared. He will be able to return for about five weeks of action and, so long as all goes well, enter spring at full speed. If his .433/.541/.733 slash line on his rehab assignment is any indication, Pollock will have no trouble picking up where he left off, though it remains to be seen whether the injury will have lasting effects.