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D-backs’ Gibson on Ross: ‘We need him to step up’

LISTEN: Kirk Gibson, D-backs manager

With A.J. Pollock now on the shelf likely until August, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfield — and offense in general — seems significantly less apt.

Pollock, 26, was in the midst of a full-fledged breakout season, leading the Diamondbacks in most major offensive categories. He was hitting a team-best .316 with a .920 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, while collecting eight stolen bases on nine attempts.

With premiere offseason acquisition Mark Trumbo already down after suffering a stress fracture in his left foot back in April, two thirds of the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day outfield has been lost to injury.

Only Gerardo Parra has managed to remain healthy through the rash in the outfield. His season has been less than stellar thus far — logging a .305 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot while batting .270 on the season.

He’ll look to shoulder some of the load left in the wake of the disabled list placements.

But the more glaring void in the Diamondbacks’ outfield lineup is found in the form of a seemingly healthy body — that of Cody Ross.

“We’re going to need him to step up and get back to his normal thing,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the Burns & Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Tuesday. “Especially since we got thinned out here, it’s all too important.”

The 33-year-old outfielder spent the offseason, and most of April, on the mend from a serious hip injury he suffered in August of last season. He has hobbled off to an ugly start in 34 games this season. Ross was hitless in his first 18 at-bats, going 3-for-35 in his first 10 games. His batting average entering Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies sits at .184, going along with an anemic .229 on-base percentage and .233 slugging percentage.

Prior to the 2013 season, the Diamondbacks signed Ross to a three-year, $25 million contract with a $9.5 million team option in 2016. He was coming off of a 22-homer, 34-double, 81-RBI season with the Boston Red Sox.

“It took him a while last year,” Gibson went on to point out, making a case that 2014’s issues aren’t occurring in a vacuum.

Hampered by a hamstring injury at the outset of his first year with the team, Ross had his share of struggles in 2013, as well, hitting .278/ .331/ .413 with eight home runs and 38 runs batted in over 94 games. The hip injury brought all of that to a screeching halt.

“He’s coming off of a very severe injury — that hip injury is very severe — and though he feels good, I wouldn’t say that he’s as quick as he’s going to be when it’s maybe another half a year out or a year out,” the manager conjectured.

“We ask ourselves if he’s compensating. Is the hip affecting his swing? He said he feels good. I don’t know if he’d tell us the truth if it was any different.”

Gibson has done his due diligence in trying to help the outfielder find a groove at the plate. Ross has appeared in 34 of the Diamondbacks’ 40 games since his activation from the disabled list in mid-April, starting in all but seven of those contests.

“I’ve played him pretty regularly — two games on, a day off, three on, a day off, a day on, a day off — and we’re just going to try to find a way to get him going,” Gibson explained.

“We certainly need his contribution.”