Dodgers fans never really full embraced AJ Pollock in 2019. His struggles in the first half of the year combined with injuries had fans wondering why the team would commit $60 million to him. That got even worse once the playoffs came around and he couldn’t touch the ball.
But ever since AJ and his wife Kate gave birth to their daughter Maddi, fans have been glued to news headlines waiting for updates. Maddi Mae was born prematurely and spent nearly four months in the NICU. Last week, they finally got to take her home. Ahead of the Dodgers’ game against Arizona on Thursday, Pollock talked with the media about what has changed in his game.
Maybe it just got me to say, ‘look, keep it simple.’ I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on, so when I’m at the field, all this other stuff I used to do, just put that aside. It’s like a pickup game of basketball. You go up there and compete. I feel pretty good up there. I feel like I can compete against the pitcher and put up some good at-bats.
Whatever he is doing and whatever motivation he is finding, it’s working. Pollock homered and doubled in his return to Arizona en route to a Dodgers win. On the year, he is off to a ridiculous start hitting .471 in 17 at-bats. Pollock also has an otherworldly OPS of 1.350 at this point.
Though he’s had his fair share of injuries and struggles throughout the years, Pollock has found success in not thinking too much.
I think I’ve gotten better and better at (compartmentalizing). I’ve had injuries. It’s kind of a similar situation with what’s happened with my daughter, trying to get her through the hospital. My wife’s frustrated. It’s day after day in a hospital. I’ve taken everything day by day, not getting too up or too down, getting your work done and not dwelling on stuff…The situation I’ve been in, it’s forced me to put stuff behind me pretty quick. I’ve learned a lot.
For the Dodgers, his success could not be coming at a better time. Slow starts from Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger have really slowed down the offensive side of things, so having him in the outfield adds to the depth.