A.J. Pollock Reflected While Recovering From Elbow Surgery, Now ‘Having Fun’ And At Ease With Dodgers

When A.J. Pollock signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2019 season, he quickly pushed back on a forming narrative of being a replacement for Yasiel Puig, who had been included in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds.

Pollock also looked to distance himself from comparisons to Bryce Harper. Even when not factoring in the Dodgers’ pursuit of Harper and trade of Puig, Pollock got off to a bit of an underwhelming start with the team.

He initially swung the bat well but production began to taper off and the veteran outfielder was required to undergo elbow surgery in early May. Pollock was sidelined through the All-Star break, with his recovery complicated and slowed by the need to also treat an infection.

While Pollock went on the 10-day injured list not performing particularly well, he was poised to return with the support of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Despite Alex Verdugo filling in admirably, Roberts said Pollock would resume as the everyday starter in center field.

Roberts’ faith has been rewarded thus far. Pollock is batting .406/.459/.813 with one double, four home runs and 12 RBI in nine games (eight starts) since being reinstated. Pollock hit two home runs in his first 28 games (26 starts) with the Dodgers.

The 31-year-old recently admitted time spent recovering from elbow surgery allowed him to be more at ease in a new setting.

“I kind of was reflecting when I was injured. I could see it. When I’m watching, I’m not watching mechanics — yeah, there’s some mechanics stuff — but I could kind of just see the rhythm,” Pollock expanded to explain what’s changed.

“You got guys that have a certain rhythm when they play, and something was a little off (for me). When you’re injured and have to take a step back, you get to see that stuff. Honestly, it sucked (being out). But, there were some positives of it. On the rehab assignment, there are a lot of cool people that get to help you out.

“Guys come with you on rehab assignments; Aaron Bates, one of our hitting coaches, got to come with me. There’s stuff you get to work on down there. I didn’t have too much success but the last day I really felt good about things. That was kind of when I knew I had something going on. I just needed to do it long enough.”

Along with the mental component, Pollock also noted physical adjustments keying a recent surge at the plate. “It’s a work in progress. Right when I came back I felt pretty good with my bat path. My timing from taking so much time off wasn’t there but I was able to keep putting the barrel on the ball,” he said.

“Just kind of keeping good routines, not taking it too seriously, showing up and having some fun. Things have been working so far. I feel like I’m in a better position to hit posture-wise, mechanically. And the other thing is I just feel like I have better rhythm to my game, I feel like I’m in a better place.

“It’s kind of hard to explain exactly what that means but I feel much better. Good tempo at the plate, good tempo in the field, not getting too high, not getting too down.”

Of course, most important is Pollock’s healthy and availability to play. “I feel really good,” he said. “Excited to be back playing on this team.”