A.J. Pollock is back in the Dodgers lineup on Sunday night, starting at designated hitter and batting eighth in the series finale against the Giants. But the more important news is why he was away in the first place.
Pollock didn’t play the last two games because he was in Arizona, where he and his wife Kate brought home their daughter, Maddi Mae, from the hospital. Their daughter was born three months premature on March 19, and was in the hospital the last four months.
“Yesterday was special,” Pollock posted on Instagram on Sunday. “After 128 days Kate and I finally got to see our little girl together. Even better is we got to take her home. Welcome home Maddi Mae!”
It was a trying four months for the Pollocks. In an interview with UCLA Health in June, Pollock said due to coronavirus regulations at the hospital, he and his wife couldn’t be with Maddi Mae in the hospital together, so they alternated shifts one at a time.
To make matters worse, Pollock tested positive for COVID-19 in June. It delayed his reporting to Dodgers summer camp, but more importantly he and his wife had to quarantine. He couldn’t see Maddi Mae for 14 days, and his wife couldn’t see the baby for 10 days.
“It was tough, especially on her,” Pollock said told reporters on July 17. “When you tell a mom you can’t see her baby, it’s not great. It’s a really strange feeling. You have a lot of joy seeing your daughter, but she’s one pound. There’s no relief she’s born because of all the challenges ahead. It’s been a wild ride. It’s been emotional, it’s been amazing, it’s been scary, it’s been frustrating. She’s in a really good place now. When she’s ready to come home she’ll come home.”
Dodgers-Giants Sunday lineups
|C||Heineman (S)||SS||Seager (L)|
Now, she’s home, which is wonderful news.
The Dodgers kept Pollock’s absence a secret, to avoid letting the Giants know they were playing shorthanded.
“That’s something that obviously, for a competitive advantage, we want to keep under wraps,” manager Dave Roberts said via conference call Sunday.
As for the rest of the lineup, with left-hander Drew Smyly starting on the mound for San Francisco the Dodgers are beginning their alternating hitters on the right side first, with Mookie Betts batting leadoff followed by Max Muncy hitting second, and so on.
Chris Taylor gets the start in left field, and Kiké Hernandez gets the call at second base. Will Smith starts behind the plate, catching Julio Urías.
For the Giants, Mauricio Dubón is making his first major league start in center field after playing the final two innings there on Saturday. It’s his first professional outfield start since starting five games in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.
It’s the third position Dubón will have started at in four games. He played second base in the first two games of this series, started at shortstop Saturday, and now center field. Neat.