PHOENIX – AJ Pollock’s return from hamstring injury was not as long as anticipated – in miles or days.
“Quite frankly, when it first happened, seeing him and how he was progressing, I thought it was the end of the season for him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the September 4 injury in San Francisco. Because Pollock became ill – advised to steal third base in the first inning.
“But luckily, he’s a quick healer.”
Given Pollock’s injury history, he’s going to have at least one repeat recovery.
With limited time in the regular season following this injury, however, Pollock was able to persuade the Dodgers to avoid the standard rehab approach, which would involve playing minor-league games before returning.
Instead, Pollock worked his way up at Dodger Stadium, working with the team’s training staff and batting against pitchers brought in from Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.
“It used to be that you had to get so many at-bats or so many at-bats,” Pollock said. “Last year, I didn’t actually go to the camp… when we came back from COVID. We went for two weeks. I was gone in like two days. In this way my eyes were opened. You feel like you must have a certain amount of reps. But actually you don’t. You just have to stay mentally closed. Luckily, I didn’t even check out once. I was mentally ready to go and then when the body took hold I was ready to go.
“It was just a salute to the organization for letting me do this. … There are a lot of organizations that will say ‘You have to do this.’ They were open minded and I really appreciate that.
“Then they got creative about how I could bat. There were some guys from Rancho who had to throw bullpen so they could come in and give me a good look. That was fun. They were excited to be there and they helped me a lot. It was a huge team effort and I greatly appreciate them for allowing me to do this. I guess that’s why I’m playing so early here.”
Pollock returned to the Dodgers lineup in Arizona on Friday and made his presence felt early, making an excellent catch to the wall in left field and hitting a home run in his first at-bat. But he is clearly not going full speed and Roberts has acknowledged that Pollock will play with “a governor” for a while.
“It looks fine,” Pollock said. “The more games I play, the more confidence I’m going to gain. I was always going to push, push, push—not to cross that line, but be aggressive and possessive of it.” Had to. I was going to see where that was taking me. I think we were actually able to get out of here earlier than we thought from the beginning. Credit goes to a lot of people, A lot of trainers put in the work. … It was a ton of people.”
Injured outfielder Cody Bellinger went through another full workout before Sunday’s game, taking a fly ball into the outfield and driving the curve of the infield. He deserves to be dropped from the injury list on Tuesday.
“We’ll see where he is in the coming days because obviously he hasn’t seen live pitching. Obviously that’s how he feels. So when we activate him there are a lot of factors,” said Roberts.
The Dodgers added left-hander Andrew Vasquez to the roster on Sunday and picked outfielder Luke Raleigh back for the minors. Vasquez has made two appearances for the Dodgers since being acquired in a minor-league trade from the Minnesota Twins. …
Roberts said the Dodgers plan to “stay the course” with their initial rotation and have made no changes this week. That means Walker Buehler, Max Schaezer and Tony Gonsoline will begin a three-match series against the San Diego Padres, with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Ureas and Buehler gearing up for a season-ending series against the Milwaukee Brewers next weekend.
The Dodgers are closed Mondays.
Padres (TBA) at the Dodgers (RHP Walker Buehler 14-4, 2.58 ERA) Tuesday at 7:10 pm, Sportsnet LA, ESPN, 570 am