(Cleanup hitter) Placido Polanco healthy for the Marlins

Miami Marlins' Placido Polanco prepares to bat during the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Monday, April 8, 2013 in Miami. (J Pat Carter/AP)

The 2012 season was not a memorable one for the Phillies and it was pretty forgettable for Placido Polanco, too.

Chronic back pain kept held him to 90 games, the fewest he played as a regularly in his 16-year big league career. His tenure with the Phillies can to an end when the team sent him home in September.

It turned out to be the best thing for the 37-year-old infielder.

Polanco said two or three months after his injury-plagued season ended his back was pain-free.

"When I started to hit, started taking ground balls, running, testing my back and seeing how it would feel. ... I felt like a had a lot of energy and no pain and my back was feeling good," Polanco said. "Getting up (in the morning), there wasn’t any pain. So I figured let me give it another year and the Marlins gave me the opportunity."

And it's really the perfect opportunity for Polanco. He went to college in Miami and has made it his offseason home. Following every home game, his wife and children are a short, 15-minute drive away.

Polanco's career wouldn't have had the same potential storybook ending had it ended last summer, when he was basically replaced with Kevin Frandsen as the team's everyday third baseman in the final two months of the season since his injury became a liability.

"It was a little bit of a confusing situation, but I was hurt, my back was hurting," Polanco said. "I think it was very nice of them just letting me go home and rest it. I think it helped me. Here I am. It’s the page I turned. I don’t really want to talk about it.

"But I’m very pleased with the organization. They gave me a chance. I think the world of Ruben and the president of the team and everybody over there. The way they treated me. Not only this time but the first time around. As a mater of fact I have their gift from Christmas, the candies and all, me and my family said, wow, what a classy organization. We think the world of them."

Polanco is batting cleanup for the Marlins tonight against the Phillies. It's the fourth time this season - and the fourth time in his career - that Polanco has hit fourth. 

Polanco is hitting .333 with two doubles in his first eight games of 2013.