Blue and Gold Illustrated

June July 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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58 JUNE/JULY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH IN THE PROS BY COREY BODDEN H eading into his final season un- der contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, former Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock put together one of the top opening-month perfor- mances to begin 2018. The fifth-year pro began the year by hitting .291 with nine home runs and 24 RBI in 27 games. Among the highlights was a three-homer game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers April 30. Not surprisingly, the strong start earned Pollock the year 's first National League Player of the Month award. "Put a lot of work into it, and there are a lot of times when you're not seeing well and you're putting in a lot of work," Pollock told "So when you are feeling good and things are rolling, it's pretty sweet. It feels special. "... I've had fast starts, and I've had slow starts. It's a long season. I think if you just understand the ups and downs of the game, you don't get too high or too low over really hot streaks or really cold streaks." Pollock continued his impressive play into May, hitting .298 with two homers and nine RBI in 47 at-bats over the first 13 games of the month. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old's blaz- ing start came to a halt May 14 when he suffered a fractured thumb diving for a ball in the outfield. Pollock opted to forego surgery and instead sport a soft cast. It was announced he could miss anywhere from four to eight weeks. "It's tough to lose anybody, but A.J. — the way he was playing — is a pretty big blow," Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen told The Arizona Republic. "You can't feel sorry for us. We've got to pick up and move on. We feel bad for A.J. He was having a great season and he'll be back to continue that season at some point." Through 40 games, Pollock was batting .293 with 44, hits, 10 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 33 RBI and nine stolen bases — all team highs, a highly unusual feat. As of May 28, he still ranked first in the National League in slugging percentage (.620), third in on-base plus slugging percentage (.969), sixth in stolen bases, seventh in home runs and ninth in RBI. The injury is a blow to Pollock — who is making $7.75 million in the final year of his deal with Arizona — given his play during the early stages of the season and his impending free agency. He could make north of his current salary on a long-term deal this offseason if he is able to continue his start once he returns from the setback. "I guess in a kind of way, the un- known is a little exciting," Pollock told 98.7 FM, a local sports station in Arizona. "Hopefully there's a chance to come back here. We love it here, it's home for the last six, seven years. [My wife] rolls with stuff. "A lot of those baseball families and the baseball wives, they learn how to roll with things because a lot of times in baseball stuff doesn't go exactly the way you planned. We'll see what happens." ✦ Injury Puts A.J. Pollock's Strong Start On Hold Pollock, who was named the National League Player of the Month for April, was hitting .293 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and nine stolen bases through 40 games before suffering a fractured thumb diving for a ball in the outfield May 14. PHOTO COURTESY ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS MLB PLAYER UPDATES Through May 28 • John Axford (Played at Notre Dame from 2002-05), RHP, Toronto Blue Jays: Has appeared in 23 games out of the bullpen for the 25-29 Blue Jays … Was 0-0 with one hold and a 3.75 ERA … Has struck out 22 batters over 24 innings. • Trey Mancini (2011-13), 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: Has played in 52 games for the 17-37 Orioles while serving as the team's starting left fielder … Was batting .235 with seven home runs and 17 RBI. • David Phelps (2006-08), RHP, Seattle Mariners: Had season-ending Tommy John surgery before the start of the regular season and will miss all of 2018 … Was expected to be the set-up man for the 33-20 Mariners. • A.J. Pollock (2007-10), OF, Arizona Diamondbacks: Got off to a red-hot start while seeing action in 27-26 Arizona's first 40 games … Was hitting .293 with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and nine steals before suffering a broken thumb … Earned National League Player of the Month accolades for April. • Jeff Samardzija (2003-06), RHP, San Francisco Giants: After opening the season on the disabled list with a pectoral strain, has made seven starts for the 25-29 Giants … Compiled a 1-3 record with a 6.23 ERA … Totaled 25 strikeouts over 34 2 ⁄3 innings.

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