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Pollock faces extended absence after surgery

@kengurnick
May 1, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock will undergo surgery on his right elbow on Thursday to remove hardware from a previous operation. Manager Dave Roberts would not provide an estimated time frame for Pollock’s return, but said it should be this season. Typical hardware removals require one to two

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock will undergo surgery on his right elbow on Thursday to remove hardware from a previous operation.

Manager Dave Roberts would not provide an estimated time frame for Pollock’s return, but said it should be this season. Typical hardware removals require one to two months of recovery before a player can return to competition to assure the holes in the bone where the screws were removed are fully healed. Hardware is sometimes left on the bone for added protection, and because removal can be more trouble than it’s worth.

This will be the third operation on Pollock’s right elbow since 2010. The previous two required five-month recoveries, but Roberts said that isn’t expected to be the case this time. Pollock was placed on the injured list on Tuesday because of a bacterial infection in the elbow.

“I don’t liken it to the past two surgeries. The structure of the bone is fine,” said Roberts. “As far as recovery, we just don’t have a timeline right now. You’re looking at time down, time to get back and get back to playing Major League Baseball, performance-wise. It’s going to be a little bit.”

Pollock fractured the elbow in 2010 and had a plate inserted to facilitate healing. In 2016, it was discovered that a screw securing the plate had broken loose from the bone and a new plate was inserted.

Roberts said the injury is more common with hockey players who break their elbows falling on the ice.

Roberts said doctors are convinced the previous fractures are fully healed and Pollock does not need the plate to keep the elbow intact. Roberts said it's believed the infection was triggered when Pollock “bumped” his elbow on the field in Chicago last week. Roberts said the infection is not believed to be related to the hardware.

Pollock was signed to a four-year, $55 million free-agent contract during the offseason to provide a right-handed bat to balance the lineup after the trades of right-handed-hitting outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.

However, Pollock was off to a slow start offensively, batting .223 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 28 games.

“It’s a blow, but more than anything, we feel for A.J.,” said Roberts. “He was so excited to play for the Dodgers, a place he targeted. For something freak to happen like this, he’s disappointed. He was trending in the right direction. He’ll overcome it, and we’re anxious to get him back.”

This is Pollock’s fifth stint on the injured list. He also has had a broken thumb, broken wrist and groin strain. He has missed at least 49 games each of the previous three seasons.

Worth noting

• David Freese was a late scratch from Wednesday night’s lineup with a bruised ankle suffered when he fouled a pitch off it during Tuesday night's game. Freese was replaced at first base by Max Muncy.

• Left-handed reliever Caleb Ferguson, placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday, threw a bullpen session on Wednesday, and Roberts said he might throw a simulated game on Saturday in San Diego.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.