Posted on April 30, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Los Angeles Dodgers A.J. Pollock
Image via lattices.com

Despite being one of the best teams in baseball right now, the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to deal with a setback. Center fielder A.J. Pollock, their biggest signing last offseason, is likely heading to the Injured List. He was unavailable during Monday’s loss to the Giants after feeling discomfort in his elbow. The Dodgers are saying he has an infection in his right elbow that will keep him sidelined for a yet-to-be-determined period of time.

“Most likely it’s an IL situation and until we get more tests, I don’t have much more,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “As far as severity, I don’t know right now. It was something that came out of nowhere. Got him on antibiotics and it hasn’t taken. Now we need some [doctors] to look at him.”

Pollock has had multiple issues with his right elbow during his career. In 2010, he missed the entire minor league season after breaking it during spring training while making a diving catch. He broke the same elbow again in 2016 while sliding into home plate during a spring training game. Pollock was limited to just 12 games in August and September that season. It appears as if the screws inserted into the elbow after the previous injuries have led to an infection.

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“I don’t know the extent of it,” says Roberts. “I think it’s a little bit the result of a past surgery he’s had on his elbow. I think he’s had one or two surgeries on that elbow. He’s got a screw in there. I don’t know a whole lot about it. I just know it’s the elbow he’s had surgery on and there’s some type of infection in there.”

For what it’s worth, Pollock has struggled offensively early in his time in Los Angeles. At the moment, he’s hitting just .223 with an OPS of .617. He’s typically been a fast starter during his career. However, it’s not unheard of for a player to get off to a sluggish start after signing a big contract with a new team. In all likelihood, Pollock’s numbers would have eventually come around to his career averages. Alas, his elbow infection has created some uncertainty surrounding his 2019 campaign.

With Pollock out, Alex Verdugo will likely see a majority of his playing time in center field. Verdugo has started games at all three outfield spots this season and excelled in a part-time role. He’s currently hitting .333 with an OPS of .975. However, he’s played primarily against right-handed pitchers, which could change with Pollock sidelined. Utility man Chris Taylor will likely share some of the center field duties while Pollock is out. But Taylor is off to a dreadful start offensively, hitting just .167 right now.

With versatile players like Verdugo, Taylor, and Enrique Hernandez, the Dodgers have the depth to survive Pollock’s absence. Even with Pollock’s early-season struggles, Los Angeles has the most wins in the National League. However, Pollock figures to be a big part of the team in the long run. Considering his history of elbow problems and a lack of clarity on the issue right now, the Dodgers should be concerned about how long they’ll be without their center fielder.

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