Pollock breaks elbow, needs surgery

No timetable for return of D-backs star outfielder

April 2nd, 2016

PHOENIX -- On a night they collected a win on the field, the D-backs also suffered a big loss, as outfielder A.J. Pollock suffered a fractured right elbow on a third-inning play at the plate against the Royals.

D-backs manager Chip Hale said Pollock would have to undergo surgery, and that the team did not know yet what a timeline for his return would be.

The injury is a huge blow to a team that is expected to contend for a postseason berth. Pollock, who was fourth among National League position players in Wins Above Replacement last year, was being counted on to be a big part of the team's offense.

"Obviously right now we feel awful for A.J.," Hale said. "We're a family, and it's like having one of your family members taken away from you right now."

Pollock was on third when David Peralta hit a grounder to second base. Omar Infante threw home to try and get Pollock, who slid headfirst, touched home plate with his left hand and then grabbed his right elbow area in pain.

Pollock had been battling a right elbow issue all spring. Friday marked the first time he had played in a big league game since March 8. Prior to Saturday he had just played in Minor League and intrasquad games.

The elbow had improved to the point where Pollock seemed set to be in the lineup for Monday's regular- season opener against the Rockies.

"He felt great," Hale said. "He was happy to be out there, he was excited about being out there again. He read a line drive and kind of got stuck in the middle. The competitiveness in you is to go in hard and try to score."

This is not the first time that Pollock has suffered a fracture in the right elbow.

After being selected in the first round of the 2009 Draft, Pollock fractured the elbow while diving for a ball during Spring Training in 2010. That injury cost him the entire 2010 season.

"With the injury that he had had, the one thing we were worried about was him diving headfirst," Hale said. "Just putting his hand down when he landed, it just was too much stress there."

The injury to Pollock could mean the team would turn to rookie Socrates Brito as its Opening Day starter. The D-backs also played infielder Chris Owings in center for a few innings Friday night.

Owings has never played the outfield on a professional level. He did take some fly balls in the outfield during Spring Training of 2014 at the urging of then-manager Kirk Gibson. Prior to that, he said his last experience out there came as a youth.

"I played a lot [of outfield] when I was growing up," Owings said. "I think they have confidence in me to kind of throw me wherever. If you can play short and second you, can play anywhere on the diamond. I'm just going to treat it as any other position. I'm going to get some work there [Saturday] and see where it goes."

Non-roster invitee Jason Bourgeois is another possibility to play center.

"You definitely feel for him you don't want to see anyone get hurt," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said of Pollock. "But as a team, we've got to step up and find a way to each do our job maybe a little better. We're going to miss him, but we've still got a season. Not to take anything away, but you can't get down. We've got a good group of guys in here and we'll respond as long as he's away. Hopefully it's a short time and we'll step up. That's what he'd want us to do as well."

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)

Even with an undetermined timeline for return, this five-category fantasy stud is likely lost for much of the season. Mixed-league owners will want to stash the outfielder on their bench or disabled list as they await more information. Unless the D-backs bring in outside reinforcements, their reigning Minor League Player of the Year, Socrates Brito, appears to be in line for a regular role. With the potential to post a solid batting average and 20 steals across 550 plate appearances, the 23-year-old can be scooped up in all 12-team, five-outfielder leagues, plus all formats with 14 or more owners.