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Baseball: Centerfielder Pollock named MVP of Cape Cod League

Fran Tolan | Thursday, August 28, 2008

What do Thurman Munson, Paul O’Neill, Evan Longoria and A.J. Pollock have in common? After the Notre Dame junior centerfielder’s stellar summer season, the correct answer is that all of them have been named Most Valuable Player of the Cape Cod League.

“It’s pretty incredible – I’m not going to lie,” Pollock said. “To be mentioned with those guys is just incredible.”

Every summer, the Cape Cod League draws most of the best college players in the country to New England. But the top-tier competition was no match for Pollock, who starred for the Falmouth Commodores. The Hebron, Conn., native finished second in the batting race with a .377 average while leading the league in hits (61), doubles (15) and slugging percentage (.556).

Pollock, who played third base as a Notre Dame freshman before switching to centerfield last season, committed just one error in 45 games.

“Before the summer, everyone from my town told me how great the Cape Cod League was,” Pollock said. “I just tried to take the same approach I always do and fortunately it worked out for me.”

Despite the tremendous honor, Pollock said he will work hard to keep improving so that he does not end up being defined by just this award.

“At one point, it’s pretty incredible and it’s a thrill,” Pollock said. “But at the same time, I’m sure there are a lot of guys on that list [of past MVPs] that you’ve never heard of.”

Pollock said he also understands that accolades like the one he earned this summer come with added pressure to lead the Irish.

“Now that I’m a junior, some people might expect me to be a little more vocal,” he said. “And I’m sure some of the guys will expect me to take on a more designated leadership role.”

But after his season in Cape Cod, Pollock should have no problem with many sets of eyes on him.

“Another thing is I’m going to be used to [added] attention with all those [scouts and fans] at those games,” Pollock said. “The summer definitely helped me with that.”

Pollock, who led the Irish with a .352 batting average last season, said he expects to carry momentum into this spring.

“I have a lot of confidence right now,” he said. “I’ve had a good couple of years [at Notre Dame] but after competing with the best players in the country like that, my confidence is obviously pretty high.”

Despite consistently tearing up opposing pitching during the summer, Pollock did find time for leisure in Falmouth, which borders the Atlantic Ocean.

“It was incredible. You’ve got the beach right there and the really nice town,” Pollock said.

He said his time in Cape Cod was one of the best experiences he has had.

“Everything about the summer was incredible. Everyone’s telling me I’m going to look back and say that it was one of the best summers of my life,” he said. “I’m already feeling that way and I’ve only been back one or two weeks.”