The first spring training game is officially in the books for the Dodgers following a 2-1 win over the A’s on Sunday. With that, we are now 31 days away from opening day 2021. On that note, there’s a noticeable void at Camelback Ranch this spring.
Number 31 is missing from camp.
The long-time Dodger Joc Pederson is gone after signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs in the offseason. After collecting his first two at-bats of the spring, Joc’s former left field counterpart AJ Pollock gave a little love to his ex-teammate while talking about his own expectations for the upcoming season.
“For me, I just go out there and prepare like I’m gonna play every single day and we’ll see what happens. I miss Joc. He’s a good friend of mine, a lot of fun to have around. But whether he’s out there or anyone else is out there with me doesn’t really change how I prepare.”
Love for Joc aside, we all know how these Dodgers operate. Pollock won’t be playing every day or anything close to it. In part due to his past struggles with staying healthy and on the field. But also because the club has a lot of bodies ready for big league playing time and not enough spots on the field to play them. In fact, Dave Roberts admitted that AJ would be part of his efforts to keep everyone healthy while managing playing time.
“I think that he’s in a great place physically,” Doc said of Pollock. “Each year, he learns more about his body, but I do think having the depth that we have and to kind of manage playing time — and that’s not just for AJ only, that’s for all of our guys — but for AJ in particular, to be able to do that, is going to help him.
Moreover, the Dodger manager was asked a bit about what he thinks LA’s regular lineups may look like for the coming season. And, among other things, he was specifically asked about what we may see out of Pollock in the outfield.
You’ll see him in left field, predominantly. He hits lefties and righties, so he’ll be a regular out there. But also understanding that Chris Taylor, Matt Beaty, Zach McKinstry guys like that are going to get some time out there, too. How that looks right now, I don’t know. But to know that AJ is going to play regularly is a pretty fair assumption
Of course with Joc Pederson now a Cub, the door is open a tad in the outfield to share some time with the man they call “Pollo.” The 33-year-old Pollock is entering the third year of a four-year deal he inked with the Dodgers in the 2018-2019 offseason. His first season was derailed by a staph infection in his elbow that cost him most of the middle of the season. He returned and hit well for a stretch before falling off a cliff (not literally) in October as LA got bounced in the NLDS.
In 2020, he put together his first healthy and productive season since he was an All-Star with the Diamondbacks in 2015. But he did that in a covid-shortened 60 game season.
Now the season reverts back to a standard 162-game slate.
Thankfully, the stacked Dodger roster will allow Pollock his fair share of time off to stay healthy and productive once again in 2021.