PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Diamondbacks have lost one of their best players to a serious injury two days before the opening of regular season.
All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow with a head-first slide into home plate in the Diamondbacks’ 7-4 exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Manager Chip Hale said Pollock would require surgery and there was no timetable for his return. Hale said the club will know more on Saturday after the severity of the break is determined.
“We feel awful for A.J.,” Hale said. “We’re a family. It’s like one of your family members taken away from you right now.”
Pollock, in the major league lineup for the first time since being sidelined with a sore elbow problem early in spring training, held his arm in obvious pain as he left the field.
“With his (earlier elbow) injury, he had one thing we worried about was him diving head-first, putting his hand down when he landed,” Hale said. “There was too much stress there.”
Hale said the attitude of the team is “next man up will have to perform. We’ll move some guys around.”
Kendrys Morales homered and Alcides Escobar tripled for the reigning World Series champion Royals, who play a pair of exhibitions against Arizona before opening their season at home against the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Pollock’s injury came in Arizona’s five-run third inning.
He had worked his way back playing in a series of minor league games and the Diamondbacks wanted him to play with the big league club before the season opener, at home Monday night against Colorado.
After he doubled, he took third on Paul Goldschmidt‘s single, then started home on David Peralta‘s bouncer to second baseman Omar Infante. Pollock stopped, then went home when Infante threw home, evading the tag with the throw up the third base line.
“If he goes feet-first, he’d be OK,” Hale said, “but the problem is the way the play played out. If he goes feet-first, he might have gotten his leg broke by the catcher. It’s just unfortunate.”
Pollock fractured the same elbow in spring training in 2010 and missed the entire season.
The Diamondback open their season at home Monday night against Colorado.
Escobar hit the first pitch from Rubby De La Rosa into deep left center for a triple in the first, then scored on Mike Moustaskas’ ground out. Hosmer led off the second with a home run to center on a 2-0 pitch from De La Rosa.
Nick Ahmed had two singles and a home run for Arizona.
Young was only supposed to throw about 40 pitches so his outing went fine, Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. A good throw would have gotten Pollock out at home and Goldschmidt reached on an infield hit because the infielder misjudged the Arizona slugger’s speed.
De La Rosa settled down after the start and went five innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
The Royals regulars are to return home on Saturday with minor leaguers filling the lineup for the exhibition game against Arizona.
Hale said he will rotate players in the middle infield positions after all the candidates had good springs. On Friday night, he said that Jean Segura – exclusively a shortstop in his time in Milwaukee – will play more at second than at short this season, while Ahmed would exclusively be at shortstop. Chris Owings can play both positions as well as third base.
Royals: Manager Ned Yost said that, due to the team’s early off days, RHP Ian Kennedy‘s first start could be pushed back to next Saturday as a precaution, without missing a turn, after Kennedy left his final spring start Wednesday with tightness in his left hamstring.
Diamondbacks: Hale said right-handed reliever Josh Collmenter (right shoulder tightness) would start the season on the disabled list.
Royals: They play their final preseason game Saturday, facing the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. RHP Yordano Venturastarts for Kansas City. The Royals open their regular season at home against the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Diamondbacks: LHP Robbie Ray starts for Arizona in the Diamondbacks’ preseason finale. Arizona opens the regular season at home Monday night against Colorado.