Wife's couch query gets Pollock in camp

Kate's words convince OF to play as baby daughter gets care

July 18th, 2020

LOS ANGELES -- After their daughter Maddie (all 22 ounces of her) was born three months premature and after he recovered from a bout with COVID-19 and after one of their repeated runs to the neo-natal unit, AJ and Kate Pollock talked baseball and whether there would be a 2020 season for a family that has bigger priorities.

“I thought it would be a lot harder,” AJ said of the decision to report to Summer Camp this week. “Kate is an athlete (lacrosse at Notre Dame). I think when I brought it up to her, she said, ‘Do you really want to look at the guys winning the World Series from the couch?’ I was like, ‘I want to do what’s best for you and what’s best for Maddie.’

“Getting coronavirus for me put it into perspective. I was staying at home and being careful and got it. I always want to play whenever I can, and Kate wants to see me play. Talked to our doctor. Everyone has their own decision to make. It helps when your whole family’s on board and they want you to play.”

Pollock said he had two days of typical COVID symptoms a month ago -- headache, body aches, congestion, loss of smell. He went 14 days without seeing his newborn, who had to be quarantined and is still hospitalized, but thriving. She’s up to 8 pounds. Pollock said she looks “like a normal baby -- she’s pretty cute” and that she never tested positive for COVID-19.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been days for Pollock when “you wonder what the future [for his daughter] will look like.”

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said. “It’s been very emotional, it’s been very frustrating, it’s been scary. But she’s in a very good place now.”

Pollock speculates he caught the virus at the hospital. By Day 10 after testing positive, he was back working out in his home gym. He’s hopeful the family can join him in L.A. in a month.

“It is strange. I’ve got Kate back in Arizona -- she’s still grinding pretty hard right now,” he said. “She’s at the hospital maybe 10 hours a day. That part mentally is hard, knowing she’s there. It’s a nice escape for me but tough thinking what my wife is going through.”

He was finally cleared to report to Summer Camp this week and almost immediately was inserted into intrasquad games. He said that from the “short runway” experience he’s had returning from numerous injuries, he’s confident he will be ready to go in six days when the season opens.

Despite being a COVID-19 survivor, he was taken aback when he arrived at Dodger Stadium and saw the extensive safety protocols that have been put in place.

“You’re the new guy that rolls in and sees all this weird stuff that goes on, there are a lot of questions,” he said. “It’s good to be around the guys, around the locker room. Everything right now seems strange, but the whole world is strange right now.”

Signed to a four-year contract a year ago, Pollock missed much of the first half of the 2019 season with an elbow infection that required surgery. When he returned, Cody Bellinger had taken his center-field job and Pollock slid to left. He had one of the better second halves on the club (.288/.348/.537), then one of the worst postseasons in history (0-for-13 with 11 strikeouts).

Right fielder Mookie Betts’ arrival seemed to reduce Pollock to a left-field platoon with Joc Pederson, but the addition of the designated hitter should provide Pollock another opportunity to crack the lineup.

“I’m excited to play with some pretty amazing players,” he said. “We’ll see how everything shakes out. It takes a whole team and we’ve got a lot of depth. There will be at-bats to go around. It’ll be a lot of fun.”