AJ Pollock spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in April.
With the Dodgers in town this week for a three-game series at Guaranteed Rate Field, the outfielder is getting the chance to see some familiar faces.
“It’s fun,” Pollock told the Tribune before Tuesday’s game. “You spend so much time with a group and you form a lot of bonds. It’s good to see them. Hopefully we can kick their butts. But it’s nice to say hi and catch up a little bit.”
Pollock played a pivotal role in the series opener later that evening when he broke a scoreless tie with a two-run pinch double to right in the sixth inning. He also scored during the four-run inning as the Sox won 4-0.
“It was good,” Pollock told reporters after the game. “I had a lot of intrasquad battles the last couple of years. It’s always fun battling those guys. And it’s good to get a win against anyone. That’s a good ballclub. I know that’s a tough team and (it’s) a little extra special.”
Pollock was in the starting lineup Wednesday, batting eighth against Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin. Sox manager Tony La Russa said it’s tough to tell who has an edge when a player faces his former team.
“I saw AJ, he won a championship over there (in 2020), they gave him a big welcome,” La Russa said Wednesday. “They know him and he knows them. You can know (Gonsolin), but it’s hard to hit him. And you may think you know where to pitch AJ, but he’s a pretty good hitter.
“If you miss, he’s going to hit you.”
Pollock’s teammate Reese McGuire experienced a reunion last week when the Sox played in Toronto. The catcher spent parts of four seasons with the Blue Jays before being traded to the Sox for catcher Zack Collins on April 3.
McGuire went 3-for-12 with one RBI in the three games at Rogers Centre.
“It was fun going back into that city, playing in that stadium,” McGuire told the Tribune on Wednesday. “A lot of good memories. (I made) my big-league debut there, so it was cool to get a little bit of a different perspective this time around and soak it all in and see some of my better friends in baseball across the diamond. Still some of them I talk to.
“All in all, it was a fun trip. Obviously would have liked to come away with some wins there (the Sox lost all three games), but it was cool.”
The Sox acquired McGuire two days after picking up Pollock in a trade that sent reliever Craig Kimbrel to the Dodgers.
“The longer you stay in this game, it’s like you (can) take offense to everything and can easily do that, but it’s a business,” Pollock said after Tuesday’s game. “They had some moves they wanted to make. They’re going to look out for their ballclub, and I was excited to be on a team that’s contending. It’s just baseball.”
Pollock slashed .282/.337/.519 with 52 homers and 150 RBIs in 258 regular-season games with the Dodgers.
“It was a tough day,” Dodgers manager David Roberts told reporters Tuesday when asked of the trade. “AJ helped us win a championship, so he’s very well-liked in the clubhouse, in the organization, and to trade him was tough for everyone.
“But to be able to acquire a guy that could step in and close for you was huge. And Craig has been great with us.”
Kimbrel, who went on paternity leave Tuesday, has 11 saves and a 4.00 ERA in 18 appearances for the Dodgers. Pollock entered Wednesday with a .220/.246/.354 slash line with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 37 games.
Pollock had his second game-winning hit of the season Tuesday; the first was a go-ahead homer in the ninth against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of a May 22 doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
The right-handed-hitting Pollock didn’t start Tuesday but came to bat for the left-handed-hitting Gavin Sheets with runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth when left-hander David Price entered for the Dodgers.
“It happened pretty quick,” Pollock said. “DP was warming up (in the bullpen) very quick. They were trying to ambush us there with Gavin’s spot coming up. I was hitting a lot down there (in the cage), so I was ready to go.”
Pollock hit Price’s first pitch for the go-ahead double.
“I’m ready to go if it’s where I want to hunt it,” Pollock said. “If it’s there, I’m ready to go. If not, hopefully I’m taking it. But I was ready to go. Some days it works, some days you get quick outs. It worked out very well for us.”
Tuesday served as an example of what Pollock is focused on.
“Just keep working, doing what I’m doing,” he said.
“You want to help the ballclub win. Whatever I can do I’m going to do.”