Odd man out? Pollock an Opening Day star
PHOENIX — A.J. Pollock may be a rookie, but told Monday he had tied a franchise record for hits by a rookie on Opening Day the Diamondbacks outfielder came back with the quip of a seasoned veteran.
“That’s really cool,” Pollock said. “I’m sure my mom will be all over it.”
A month ago prepared to open the season with Triple-A Reno, stuck behind a glut of outfielders at the major league level, Pollock instead opened in the big leagues, starting in center field on his first Opening Day in the majors and getting the big hit that propelled the D-backs to a 6-2 win over the Cardinals on Monday night.
“That’s a good way to write it up (in) the first game, everyone kind of feeling like they’re right on it,” Pollock said. “Me personally, I just wanted to go out there and hit a couple balls hard, and I really felt good.”
Pollock finished the game 3 for 4 with a double and two RBI. His two-run double off Adam Wainwright in the fourth inning put the D-backs ahead 3-1, and his three hits tied a franchise record for hits by a rookie on Opening Day, matching Travis Lee’s performance on Opening Day 1998. Not a bad night for a fifth outfielder, huh?
The D-backs hold Pollock in high regard, but between Adam Eaton’s impressive showing late last season earning him first crack at center field, the signing of Cody Ross and the continued presence of veteran Jason Kubel and Gold Glove outfielder Gerardo Parra, there was just no place for him in the majors entering the spring.
However, Ross injured his calf early in spring and won’t be back for at least another week. Suddenly, Pollock was in the mix as a fourth outfielder. Then Eaton came down with an elbow injury that will keep him out for roughly two months. Pollock suddenly was in line for a starting job.
Short of robbing someone of a home run, Pollock couldn’t have done much more Monday night to make the most his opportunity, one he admits didn’t seem like a possibility a month ago.
“If you had asked me if I was going to (get three hits on Opening Day), I probably would have said, ‘tough chance,'” Pollock said. “You know, it’s one game, but we really looked good tonight.”
Pollock said it so we didn’t have to — one game is a mighty small sample size. We’ll hold off on Rookie of the Year talk. But if Pollock’s results against the Cardinals’ ace portend more impact hits and key bottom-of-the-order production, the D-backs might have a tough decision to make when their other outfielders are healthy.
While most rookies might not get sleep the night before their first Opening Day, Pollock says he was happily distracted moving into a new place. Setting up his new abode, he didn’t get much of a chance to psyche himself out. That much was clear in his Opening Day performance.
“This is the stage I’ve always wanted to be on,” Pollock said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be in Reno or here, but wherever I was going, it was to get to here. It was really just wherever I’m at competing and helping the team win. I feel very fortunate that it’s here and I get to show kind of what I have.”
Follow Tyler Lockman on Twitter