Excited Pollock envisions return this season

Excited Pollock envisions return this season

PHOENIX -- A.J. Pollock is more optimistic than ever about returning to the field this season.

The D-backs' center fielder hasn't played since an April 1 exhibition game in which he sustained a fractured right elbow that required surgery. But Pollock continues to make strides in his rehab that keep him enthusiastic about a 2016 return.

"I didn't have a thought that I wasn't going to play this year," Pollock said. "I'm going to play, and when I'm out there, it's going to be like I feel like I could've been out there a month earlier, which is a good thing. I'm going to get asked the question, 'Do you think it's too early?' and it's not going to be. It's going to be really, really easy. When I'm out there, I'm going to be ready to go."

Pollock has been hitting off a tee and throwing from 75 feet.

"It feels pretty easy," Pollock said. "Hitting, I feel 100 percent, I've just got to face some live pitching. Throwing-wise, I feel great, the ball's got some zip on it."

The Arizona center fielder said full batting practice should be coming pretty soon. But before that happens, Pollock said he will make an adjusted rehab schedule with the training staff, which he praises for having him in the condition he is in.

"I have a lot of trust in the trainers, they are literally the best in the game," Pollock said. "I feel really, really fortunate to have those guys doing my rehab, and at this point, why wouldn't I trust them, because they've done such a good job with me."

Pollock was coming off a great 2015 season in which he was named an National League All-Star and won a Gold Glove Award, batting .315 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs. The D-backs have certainly missed having that kind of production from Pollock in the lineup.

D-backs manager Chip Hale has also been encouraged by Pollock's progress and what he has shown in the preliminary stages of his rehab.

"[Head athletic trainer] Ken Crenshaw looked at me -- and trainers are always the most conservative guys -- and he says, 'Chip, you are going to be amazed,'" Hale said. "We're very excited that he feels good; we have to temper it a little bit, make sure he doesn't get too out of hand."

Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Arizona. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.