PHOENIX -- Since collecting three hits and driving in two runs on Opening Day, D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock has gone hitless in his last nine at-bats entering Monday. The drought has been especially sour because the 25-year-old has had a couple hits taken away from him.
In addition to recording a few loud outs off hard-hit balls, Pollock appeared to leg out an infield single over the weekend in Milwaukee only to be called out by the first-base umpire. The young outfielder knows there is always tough luck involved in baseball but admitted it's difficult to accept sometimes, especially when he is getting a chance to play every day at the Major League level.
"It is frustrating, but you have to keep trying to hit the ball hard, because that's baseball," said Pollock, who hit .247 in 31 games last year in his first big league season. "You get up here, and there might be more pressure to perform, but you really can't control a lot of stuff."
Most of the pitchers Pollock has faced this season he hasn't seen before, including Pittsburgh's starter on Monday night, left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, so he has relied heavily on teammates and scouting reports to prepare for games.
"You have to learn a lot from there, but the cool thing here is they are very detailed, so you go in with a lot more understanding of what they are doing," he said. "I think the learning curve here is [about] more preparing because you have a lot more stuff at your disposal. You learn how to research when you're up here."
Despite the small slump, Pollock still figures to play consistently until Cody Ross returns from injury, when he'll likely transition into the fourth-outfielder role.
Gibson likes having Hinske available in a pinch
PHOENIX -- With four hits in six career at-bats against James McDonald, the Pirates' scheduled starter for Tuesday, Eric Hinske thought he'd ask D-backs manager Kirk Gibson what his chances were of being in the lineup.
Admittedly, Gibson initially considered giving Hinske his first start of the year but decided against it a day in advance.
His reasoning? The manager prefers the veteran as a pinch-hitter, where he can affect the game at any moment. Kind of like Hinske did Sunday when he smacked a two-run homer in the 11th inning against the Brewers.
"I like him right where he is," Gibson said. "He brings a different element, he's very focused at the time of his at-bats, but he also keeps everyone loose."
Gibson doesn't think just anyone can come off the bench in a clutch scenario and deliver. He likened the role to that of a kicker in the NFL.
"You sit there, prepare, be a good teammate, then get a chance to win a game," Gibson said. "I look at it as a glorious job to have. It's just how you process it."
In four pinch-hit at-bats this season, Hinske has two hits and three RBIs.
"He certainly has the credentials for the job," Gibson said of Hinske. "He gives great at-bats."
Montero gets first breather against Pirates lefty
PHOENIX -- After catching the first six games of the season, including two that went into extra innings, Miguel Montero was left out of the D-backs' lineup for the first time in 2013 on Monday, with Wil Nieves starting in his place.
"Miggy has caught a lot," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He went through Spring Training and didn't catch that much, now he's caught a ton. I just think it's smart."
Montero started 136 games at catcher last year, not receiving his first day off until the ninth game of the season. But with the 16- and 11-inning games the D-backs have played, as well as the travel to Milwaukee and back, the club thought Monday would be an ideal time to rest their franchise catcher, who signed a $60 million, five-year contract with the team last May.
In his first 23 at-bats to begin 2013, Montero has seven hits, five walks and three RBIs.
As for Nieves, Monday marked his first start behind home plate since March 28, in a Cactus League game against the Rangers. The veteran backup has stayed sharp by catching daily bullpen sessions and working through extra blocking and throwing drills.
"I'm used to it," Nieves said. "Over the years I've learned how to stay ready, so when my opportunities come, I can play up to my ability."
• Didi Gregorius (elbow) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno on Monday as the team's designated hitter, but a rainout postponed the game.
• After serving as the team's DH for three games, Cody Ross (calf) is scheduled to play five innings in the outfield for Class A Advanced Visalia on Monday. The game will mark the first time the outfielder has played defense since Spring Training. If there are no setbacks, Ross could rejoin the D-backs as soon as Friday.
• The D-backs will wait another two weeks before testing the elbow of injured center fielder Adam Eaton, who began hitting on Thursday.
Quote to note
"He'll be great wherever he goes. He was a teammate of mine in Pittsburgh, so I've known him a long time. He has great knowledge and he did a great job for us in [Double-A] Mobile last year, the guys loved him. He'll do good things, but I wish him no luck this series." -- Manager Kirk Gibson, on former D-backs player and organizational coach Jay Bell, who is now the hitting coach for the Pirates
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.