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D-backs rookie A.J. Pollock stays calm, shines on Opening Day

The Arizona Diamondbacks came away with a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night, and center fielder A.J. Pollock played a huge role in his Opening Day debut.

Pollock might have been a novice when it came to Opening Day, but you wouldn’t know it by his performance against St. Louis.

The 25-year-old outfielder recorded three hits against the Cardinals. That’s tied for the most by a D-backs rookie on Opening Day, joining Travis Lee, who collected his trio on March 31, 1998 against the Rockies.

“We were patient and it’s all about hitting mistakes,” Pollock said. “Today we capitalized on it. I think we did a good job of being patient and waiting for a pitch to hit and we did some damage.”

In 2012, Pollock played 31 games for Arizona and bounced back and forth between the majors and Triple-A Reno.

Pollock hit .318 in 106 games with Reno last year in the Pacific Coast League. He also was named Most Valuable Player of the National Championship game in 2012.

He got the start at center field on Monday because of the sprained elbow injury former Reno Aces teammate Adam Eaton suffered during spring training. So far, he’s taking advantage of the opportunity and says he was able to remain calm and composed for Opening Day because of his previous experience with the team.

“I felt good. It was like last year when you get called up and then you go back to the minors for a while and then you get called up again. It’s almost like going through your first debut again,” said Pollock after the game Monday night. “I got a little practice getting the nerves down and just relaxing. I guess tonight I just felt really comfortable and I just wanted to have fun.”

The message he told himself all night: it’s still just baseball.

“It helps a lot, mostly if you can settle yourself down, you realize it’s the same game you play but a lot of the times you get the fans out there, you get 48,000 fans screaming and it really kind of dictates you know what you’re doing and kind of gives you more energy and you try to do too much,” said Pollock. “It really kind of settles you down if you can just get used to it.”