The injury to A. J. Pollock may have far-ranging repercussions.
Understanding the Diamondbacks struggles this season, the loss of perhaps its best player will not result without challenges.
Immediately, manager Kirk Gibson needs to find an adequate replacement in centerfield. At this point, his options are left-handed hitters and Gibson told reporters prior to Sunday’s game with Cincinnati that he had not thought beyond the immediate contest with the Reds.
That said, the D-backs open a three-game set with the Rockies on Tuesday night and face lefty Jorge De La Rosa. For Gibson, that’s consideration for the future because there is an immediate task at hand.
On Sunday, the Diamondbacks placed Pollock, who sustained a fractured right hand in the game Saturday, on the 15-day disabled list. Pollock will undergo hand surgery and is expected to be out from six to eight weeks.
At the time of his injury, Pollock was leading the team in hitting with a .316 batting average. As well, the native of Hebron, Conn. hit .344 (53-for-154) since April 4 and .522 in his last six games.
To replace Pollock, the Diamondbacks called up David Peralta, who was hitting .297 at Double-A Mobile. Among Southern League leaders, Peralta, at 26-years-old and an native of Valencia, Venezuela, tied for the league-lead in doubles, tied for the league-lead in RBIs, tied for third in total bases, fourth in hits, tied for fourth in runs scored and fifth in extra bases hits.
Immediately, he was inserted in Sunday’s lineup and hit seventh against Reds’ right-hander Alfredo Simon.
Peralta’s presence gives the Diamondbacks another left-handed bat and Cody Ross remains the only right-handed hitting outfielder. In a possible move, Gibson could place third baseman Martin Prado in the gardens but, at this point, Gibson indicated, that option has not been discussed.
“With Pollock out, we’re talking about different scenarios,” said Gibson. “Pollock figured in the rotation and now we’ll have to figure out a new rotation.”
At this point, Gibson said Ender Inciarte is his best defensive option but Inciarte was hitting only .156 (7-for-45) prior to Sunday’s game. Noting Inciarte is “making strides as a hitter,” replacing Pollock will be a test.
The injury to Pollock could be more severe than first thought.
For the procedure, Pollock will have the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, which is the broken bone, straighten out with a plate and possibly screws. The forecast for recovery is about two months and that would put Pollock out until late July or early August.
During the past off-season, the Diamondbacks traded left-hander pitcher David Holmberg, whom they regarded as a coveted prospect
Though Holmberg’s minor league record for was 32-32 at the time of the trade, his ERA was a respectable 3.40 ERA. Holmberg eventually became part of a three team deal and dealt to Cincinnati.
Penciled as a potential starter in the Reds’ rotation, Holmberg suffered a leg injury during spring training drills and is now recovering at the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate Louisville Bats.
Currently on Louisville’s disabled list, Holmberg has yet to reach a reasonable health level. In five starts for the Bats, he is 0-4 with a 10.50 ERA.
“It’s been a slow start for David and his velocity is down,” said Reds’ manager Bryan Price before Sunday’s game with the Diamondbacks in Chase Field. “We have not seen the best of him but he is projected as an impact player for us.”
If he was healthy, Holmberg would have had a good chance to enter the Reds’ rotation. That’s because Mat Latos, who went 14-7 with a 3.16 ERA last season, went down with a combination of elbow and knee problems and placed on the disabled list March 21. Latos has yet to appear in a game this season.
“With Mat down, David had a shot to make our club,” Price added. “We picked up David for depth in our organization and with the expectation he would make a contribution in the rotation.”