Polanco Has Back Injury, Out of Lineup
Placido Polanco said his left elbow felt fine yesterday.
Nobody asked him about his back.
Polanco is not in the lineup tonight for Game 1 of the NLDS against the Reds because of soreness in the middle of his back. Ruben Amaro Jr. said they never considered leaving Polanco off the NLDS roster because they expect him to eventually play in the series.
“It wasn’t so alarming that we thought it would affect our roster,” Amaro said in the dugout at Citizens Bank Park. “If it was more serious, yeah.”
Wilson Valdez, who hit .258 with four home runs and 35 RBIs in 333 at-bats, will start at third base and hit eighth. Charlie Manuel had planned to have Shane Victorino hit leadoff and Polanco second, but with Polanco out Manuel will hit Jimmy Rollins leadoff and Victorino second.
It certainly is a big loss for the Phillies. Polanco hit .298 with six homers and 52 RBIs in 554 at-bats and played solid defense at third base. Amaro said he still hoped Polanco could play Wednesday, perhaps as a pinch-hitter, although Manuel sounded pessimistic.
“He came in and told me that he couldn’t bend over,” Manuel said. “He said it hurt when he bent over. He said it hurt when he turned left or right. I’m concerned.”
Amaro said Polanco’s back has improved since yesterday, when Polanco first received treatment. Manuel said it got worse since yesterday. Amaro said Polanco first noticed his back tighten while getting out of his car Monday.
“It felt better, it felt worse,” Amaro said. “I guess it’s gone back and forth. Obviously it felt bad enough that he told Charlie he wasn’t able to go. He’s actually doing better now. He just had some more treatment. I just talked to (heat athletic trainer) Scott Sheridan. He’s doing better. Who knows? Maybe he’s available by the end of the game. I don’t know.”
Polanco, who has been bothered this season with a bone spur and tendinitis in his left elbow, was unavailable to comment until after Game 1 because he was receiving treatment on the back. Polanco received a fourth cortisone injection into the elbow last week and said Tuesday it felt much better.
“Kind of freaky,” Amaro said of Polanco’s back injury. “He did not fall out of the car. He told me yesterday he doesn’t really remember doing anything.”
Valdez has been a savior of sorts for the Phillies this season. Rollins missed nearly half the year because of a strained right calf and hamstring. Valdez started 50 games at shortstop, 35 games at second base and three games at third base.
Valdez, who dyed his goatee red for the postseason, said he was expecting Polanco to play.
“We don’t want anybody to get hurt, but if anybody gets hurt I’m ready to take his spot,” Valdez said. “It’s nothing different. I have to be ready every day. When I don’t play I work at different positions to get used to it. When I get a chance to play I’m ready.”
It is days like this that Amaro feels fortunate Valdez cleared waivers earlier this season. The Phillies signed infielder Juan Castro to a Major League contract before the season, expecting him to be their utility player. But Castro had trouble staying healthy, fell out of favor with Manuel and Valdez won the utility job.
“I’ve thanked my lucky stars quite a few times,” Amaro said. “He’s done a great job for us.”
He hopes he continues to exceed expectations in Game 1.