Placido Polanco was nervous when he first limped off the field. The Phillies' new third baseman had lost a pop-fly in the sun, then stumbled over the back of the pitcher's mound while looking skyward. He felt his knee buckle, then fell to the ground as Phillies trainers ran out to the field.
"It didn't feel right, and it was pretty sore," Polanco said.
Less than an hour later, Polanco was much more at ease with his injury, a right knee sprain that he says will not require an MRI or a trip to the disabled list. The 34-year-old veteran was examined by a Pirates team doctor after he limped off the field with the assistance of two Phillies trainers.
"They checked all those complicated ligaments, and it's just the back of the knee, the capsule," said Polanco, who suffered the injury in the third inning at Mc Kechnie Field in Bradenton. "It's probably hyper extended a little bit, irritated. Right now it's probably day-to-day. It's nothing bad, no DL situation, nothing like that."
Signed by the Phillies to a three-year, $18 million contract this offseason, Polanco is attempting to replace Pedro Feliz at third base, a position he has not played since 2005.
He was replaced by Cody Ransom at third base.
While clearly shaken by the injury, Polanco sounded relieved when discussing his prognosis. He will return to Clearwater, where he will be examined by the Phillies' athletic training staff early Tuesday morning.
"Tomorrow is a big day to see how it feels, how swollen it is," Polanco said. "And then we'll go from there."
If Polanco were to miss extended time, the Phillies would have several internal options. Ransom, a non-roster invitee, was the Yankees' Opening Day third baseman last year, when Rodriguez was sidelined after undergoing hip surgery. Left-handed hitting Greg Dobbs started 11 games at third base last season and 42 at the position in 2008. Utility man Juan Castro has started 92 career games at third, although he is more of a short stop and middle infielder.
The only third baseman still left on the free agent market is Joe Crede, a right-handed hitter who hit .283 with 30 home runs for the White Sox in 2006, but has hit just .232 with a .293 OBP and 36 home runs in 918 plate appearances over the last three seasons. The 32-year-old Crede, who has battled back problems, played in 90 games for the Twins last season, hitting .225 with 15 home runs in 367 plate appearances.