Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock will undergo surgery to remove the metal hardware that was inserted in his the growth plate of his right elbow back in a 2016 procedure, manager Dave Roberts announced Wednesday (Twitter links via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com and Pedro Moura of The Athletic).
Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers feel the fact that the metal can be removed entirely, rather than replaced is “relatively” good news, as it means Pollock’s growth plate has healed sufficiently, though obviously the loss is a blow to the club. There’s no timeline on a return, though Roberts noted that Pollock is expected back this season.
The Dodgers were well aware of the injury risks associated with Pollock when signing him to a four-year contract this offseason. The 31-year-old is an undeniably talented all-around player, but he’s topped 500 plate appearances just once in his big league career. Pollock averaged just 101 games played and 402 plate appearances per season dating back to 2014.
Most notably, Pollock was limited to only a dozen games back in 2016 after suffering a fractured elbow while sliding headfirst on a play at the plate — the injury that necessitated the surgery that ultimately led to this new procedure. It’s been a slow start to the season for Pollock, likely in part due to this infection, as he’s hit just .223/.287/.330 through 115 PAs — including just three hits in his past 29 trips to the plate.
With Pollock sidelined indefinitely, it stands to reason that Alex Verdugo will see an increased role in the outfield. Chris Taylor, too, could see an increase in playing time. Beyond that pair of center-field options, the Dodgers have Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson as options, and versatile Enrique Hernandez is plenty experienced there. The team could get another option to add back into the mix eventually as well; Roberts also indicated that Andrew Toles has reported to the team’s Spring Training facility in Arizona and is beginning to work toward a return to the club (Twitter link via DiGiovanna).
Note: An earlier version of this post inaccurately indicated that the hardware in Pollock’s elbow had been dislodged. That is not the case. My apologies on the error.