Glad to be back, Pollock delivers big opener

Slow spring 'a blessing in disguise' as outfielder tallies 3 hits vs. Giants

Glad to be back, Pollock delivers big opener

PHOENIX -- Last year on Opening Day, D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock was wearing a cast on his arm and discussing upcoming surgery on his fractured elbow.

Sunday, Pollock was making his presence felt, picking up three hits, including a two-run homer off Madison Bumgarner, in the D-backs' 6-5 Opening Day win over the Giants.

"That home run he hit to tie the game right there was awesome," D-backs shortstop Chris Owings said. "Making plays out there in center field, having good at-bats, running the bases hard. He's a guy that can steal bases and change the game on the basepaths, at the plate and in the field."

It was that impact the D-backs sorely missed last year when Pollock suffered the fractured elbow diving into home plate two days before the opener.

"You saw it today," D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. "I don't think we realized how much we missed him. He's a huge part of this team. He's a great leader and a great player. He does a lot of great things."

Statcast: Pollock's diving catch

After appearing in just 12 games toward the end of last season, Pollock came to Spring Training looking for a fresh start.

However, a groin injury forced him to miss some time, and when he was in the lineup, the hits just didn't seem to fall for him as he batted .143 with two homers.

"I guess Spring Training means nothing," Pollock said, smiling. "Didn't have too many good at-bats in spring. It was close. That's the frustrating thing. The swing felt so close. The frustration definitely was in Spring Training."

Finally, a couple of days ago, Pollock reminded himself that if he really was close, it wouldn't take much for those outs to turn into hits. It was the same thing he told himself after going hitless in his first two at-bats Sunday -- trust the process.

Now when he looks back at Spring Training, Pollock finds the silver lining in the struggles.

"It's been great working with [hitting coach Dave] Magadan," Pollock said. "I really think it was a blessing in disguise to scuffle in Spring Training because the communication between he and I was awesome. Probably would not have been as good if I went into Spring Training and just tore things up. We talked about a lot of stuff and just getting things out there in the open."

After his homer in the sixth, Pollock added a single in the eighth and another in the ninth as part of the game-winning rally.

"At this time last year, I was talking about the details of surgery," Pollock said. "So, pretty awesome. I took a couple of moments to really just rehash my last year and remember the people that put so much hard work into getting me where I'm at today. I love this game. I love being out there and being able to contribute with this group of guys that I've gotten to know over the years. It was pretty special."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.