The Arizona Diamondbacks have lost one of their best players to a serious injury two days before the opening of regular season.
All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow with a head-first slide into home plate in the Diamondbacks' 7-4 exhibition victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
— Ben Diamond (@_BenDiamond) April 2, 2016
Pollock will require surgery, and would only say Saturday that he hopes to return sometime during the 2016 season. He said that he knew right away that his elbow was broken.
“I felt something, it almost felt like a nightmare like it didn’t happen," Pollock said. "But today it has sunk in and I just have to get ready for what’s next.”
Manager Chip Hale said after Friday's game that they will know more once the severity of the break is determined.
"We feel awful for A.J.," Hale said. "We're a family. It's like one of your family members taken away from you right now."
Pollock, in the major league lineup for the first time since being sidelined with a sore elbow problem early in spring training, held his arm in obvious pain as he left the field.
Sick for A.J. Praying for quick healing. This team will come together and persevere - that's what family does in tough times.
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) April 2, 2016
"With his (earlier elbow) injury, he had one thing we worried about was him diving head-first, putting his hand down when he landed," Hale said. "There was too much stress there."
Pollock was asked Saturday why he slid head first into home plate during the play, and defended the decision.
“I was going to dive head first sometime this season so I tried it there," he said.
Hale said the attitude of the team is "next man up will have to perform. We'll move some guys around."
Socrates Brito would be the likely replacement for Pollock, but Chris Owings played some center late in the game.
Kendrys Morales homered and Alcides Escobar tripled for the reigning World Series champion Royals, who play a pair of exhibitions against Arizona before opening their season at home against the New York Mets on Sunday night.
Pollock's injury came in Arizona's five-run third inning.
He had worked his way back playing in a series of minor league games and the Diamondbacks wanted him to play with the big league club before the season opener, at home Monday night against Colorado.
After he doubled, he took third on Paul Goldschmidt's single, then started home on David Peralta's bouncer to second baseman Omar Infante. Pollock stopped, then went home when Infante threw home, evading the tag with the throw up the third base line.
"If he goes feet-first, he'd be OK," Hale said, "but the problem is the way the play played out. If he goes feet-first, he might have gotten his leg broke by the catcher. It's just unfortunate."
Pollock fractured the same elbow in spring training in 2010 and missed the entire season.
The Diamondbacks open their season at home Monday night against Colorado.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.