Health updates on Polanco, Blanton and Contreras

Placido Polanco will remain the Phillies' starting third baseman, Ruben Amaro Jr. said. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

MILWAUKEE — Placido Polanco has begun running after his double hernia surgery in October and Ruben Amaro Jr. said there is no upgrade necessary at third base.

"Polly is our third baseman," Amaro said. "I'm looking forward to him being healthy. If he's healthy, he's exactly what we're trying to have as far as our offense is concerned. If he's healthy, he's our best hitter.

What if he isn't healthy?

"Then we'll deal with it," Amaro said. "We'll have [Wilson] Valdez or [Michael] Martinez or somebody else cover for him."

Amaro hinted that Polanco's health problems began sometime in May, shortly after he hit .398 in April. Polanco hit .243 the rest of the way and was 2 for 19 in the National League division series.

- Joe Blanton made two starts after the Phillies were eliminated in the postseason. Blanton pitched in the Florida instructional league to further test his balky elbow that cost him much of the 2011 season but never required surgery.

Amaro said Blanton threw 70 pitches in his final outing and never experienced health issues. He threw all of his pitches, including breaking balls, and the Phillies are confident he'll slide into the 2012 rotation.

"He showed us he's pretty healthy," Amaro said. "As far as we're concerned, he'll be either our fourth or fifth starter."

Blanton is due $8.5 million in 2012.

- Jose Contreras will begin throwing in January and Amaro said he expects the Cuban righthander to be ready for the start of spring training. Contreras had surgery in September on his elbow.

- Jonathan Papelbon will actually take a pay cut from 2011 to 2012. He made $12.5 million with Boston in 2011 and will earn $11 million with the Phillies in 2012. Of course, Papelbon won't mind that because he's owed $13 million per season from 2013-15.

The Phillies have committed $119.2 million to 11 players for 2012. That does not include their five arbitration-eligible players, who are all expected to be tendered contracts. Figure the Phillies have about $60 million to fill those other 14 spots.

- The Phillies acquired righthanded pitcher Adam Worthington from the Arizona Diamondbacks as the player to be named later in the Mike Zagurski trade. Worthington, 24, has never pitched above single A. He's a reliever and posted a 4.48 ERA in 62 1/3 innings in 2011.

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