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Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock has had more on his mind than baseball

The Dodgers' AJ Pollock warms up before an intrasquad game July 15, 2020.
The Dodgers’ AJ Pollock, pictured during an intrasquad game Wednesday, discussed his battle with the coronavirus that delayed his arrival to camp until this week.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

AJ Pollock tested positive for the novel coronavirus about a month ago. He felt symptoms for two days. Headaches. Body aches. Congestion. He lost his sense of smell and taste.

“I had good ice cream that someone sent me,” Pollock said, “and it was just a waste of time because I couldn’t taste it.”

The outfielder described the experience as frightening in a videoconference call with reporters Friday. It was the reason why he reported to Dodgers training camp late this week.

But the episode paled in comparison with the terrifying trial he and wife, Kate, faced when their daughter, Maddi, was born three months premature March 19.

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Maddi weighed 1.6 pounds at birth. For the next two months, Pollock and his wife spent the bulk of their days at the hospital where Maddi has been in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Then Pollock tested positive for the virus. He couldn’t see Maddi for 14 days.

Kate couldn’t see her for 10 days, even though she tested negative.

The legitimacy of the MLB season will depend on players staying on the field. If they do, the World Series champion will have overcome unique obstacles.

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“It’s really bizarre,” Pollock, 32, said. “It’s a really strange feeling. Obviously, you have a joy seeing your daughter, but she’s one pound and your head is already gone into what’s the future look like? What’s the next step? Obviously, there’s no relief that she’s born because of all the challenges ahead.”

Pollock said his daughter had an eye scare last month but is trending in the right direction. Maddi weighs more than eight pounds.

She will remain in the hospital in Arizona until she can feed more on her own.

Deciding whether to play this season was easier than expected. Kate, a former lacrosse player at Notre Dame, encouraged him to join the Dodgers.

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“Kate’s an athlete,” Pollock said. “So when I brought it up to her, she said, ‘Could you really look at the guys win the World Series from our couch?’ ”

Ten Dodgers, including Clayton Kershaw and Cody Bellinger, appeared in a video pledging to raise funds for social justice causes through the ‘In This Together’ campaign.

The answer was no. Pollock reported to camp Tuesday after he was cleared. He said he doesn’t feel too far behind because he was working out at home, where he has a gym and batting cage, at 100% 10 days after his diagnosis. He figures to slide into a platoon with Joc Pederson in left field.

He hopes Maddi will be discharged from the hospital in two weeks. She and Kate can stay with him in Los Angeles once that happens. But before then, he’ll get to see them when the Dodgers visit Phoenix for a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks starting July 30.

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Short hops

Walker Buehler tossed two perfect innings with two strikeouts Friday in his first intrasquad game appearance. … Catcher Keibert Ruiz reported to training camp Friday after missing the first 14 days of workouts. ... Outfielder Terrance Gore joined the Dodgers on Friday. The veteran spent spring training with the club before baseball’s shutdown.


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