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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Monday, August 20, 2012


PHILADELPHIA — By the time Placido Polanco returned to the starting lineup Monday, it was way, way late to salvage the Phillies’ season.

 But how about his Phillies’ career?
That is what Polanco will hope to protect over the final 41 games of a trying season, during which he’d just spent nearly a month on the disabled list recovering from lower back inflammation.
 “I don’t know,” the former All-Star third baseman was saying before the Phillies hosted the Reds. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know. I’ve been here, I like it here, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t know.”

For a relatively reasonable fee – reported to be as low as $500,000, but also up to $1 million – the Phillies could buy out the final year of Polanco’s contract, setting him free after this season. Otherwise, they would owe him $5.5 million.
Polanco, 36, earned $6.25 million this season. He was hitting .255 with two home runs in 82 games when he was reactivated. Hector Luna had been returned to Lehigh Valley Sunday to make roster room.
 “You should ask that to the people who have control of the situation,” Polanco said, pointing, as if to suggest upstairs in the front office. “Would I like to be here? I would like to be here. But I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Charlie Manuel said he plans to play Kevin Frandsen Tuesday, then Polanco again Wednesday, then continue the pattern “for a few days” in an effort to keep Polanco healthy.
 “I think if he’s healthy and he can play into September and if you see him play good, then if he doesn’t fit in our plans, I’m sure somebody in baseball might have interest in him,” the manager said.

“But I think if he plays good, yeah, I think we’ll definitely talk to him.”
 If the Phillies have any remaining urge to keep Polanco, it will be because they believe he can remain functional.
 “I think the more he can stay on the field, that’s what makes sense for him,” Manuel said. “He has to show he can stay on the field and stay healthy to be able to play every day, to play enough where somebody thinks he’s an everyday player.”
 * * *
With Polanco starting, Frandsen had a string of 20 consecutive starts snapped. He had been hitting .329.
 “It is what it is,” Frandsen said. “I hope that people have seen what I’ve done. That’s how I’ve always played, and I’ve asked for the chance to play every day to make that adjustment. I’ve said this to everyone, but my minor league numbers speak for themselves.”
 The 30-year-old Frandsen had hit .309 and .302 in the minors in the last two years after previous big-league opportunities in San Francisco and Anaheim.
 “Getting that opportunity to play every day and make the adjustment on the fly – as opposed to sporadic – meant the world to me because it showed, maybe myself, that it’s not a lie what I did down there,” he said. “It is what it is here.”
 Frandsen insisted he had no intention of discussing his situation with Charlie Manuel.
 “With Polly back, you have the All-Star and the guy who has been proven year after year,” he said. “My job is to be ready to play every day and whenever I am called upon.”
 Frandsen’s strong audition in Polanco’s absence should boost his chances of remaining with the Phillies next season.
 “I think he’s been playing very good,” Manuel said. “Sometimes when you get a chance to play, you take advantage of it. He’s done that. He’s going to continue on getting a chance to play some more. He’s earned the right to play.”
 * * *
The therapeutic boot removed from his left foot and having recovered from plantar fasciitis, Carlos Ruiz took some loose, one-handed swings in the cage Monday and hopes to hit on the field as soon as Wednesday. He joined the disabled list August 4.
 “I want to come back real bad,” said Ruiz, who was hitting .335 when injured. “I want to finish the season healthy. I don’t want to go home. We’ll see how it goes. I’m happy now because I feel real good. I feel like I’m close.”
 Ruiz said he will resume running sometime early next week in advance of a likely rehab assignment. He has been doing some upper body exercises and some biking.
 * * *
As the Phillies began a 10-game homestand Monday, Antonio Bastardo had not pitched in 12 days. Jeremy Horst, also a left-handed reliever, had two appearances in the interim.
 “I still view him as an option,” Manuel said of Bastardo. “He hasn’t pitched in a while. It’s not because we have overlooked him. But the fact is that times have come up where we have kind of backed away from him with the situation, maybe because it was a righty (at bat). And Horst has been pitching pretty good.
 “There’s no way we’re going to give up on Bastardo. He is healthy.”
* * *
Cliff Lee (2-7, 3.83) will oppose Homer Bailey (10-8, 4.16) tonight. Vance Worley (6-8, 4.11) and Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.96) will pitch Wednesday. Thursday, it will be Cole Hamels (14-6, 2.94) and fellow Cy Young Award candidate Johnny Cueto (16-6, 2.44) as the Phils and Reds wind up their four-game series.


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