CLEARWATER, Fla. — It wasn't until doctors repaired two tears in Placido Polanco's abdomen when the third baseman understood how hurt he was.
"Every time I coughed, every time I laughed," Polanco said, "it hurt."
Polanco, 36, came to spring training Wednesday confident he can stay healthy, like just about every baseball player this time of the year. There are serious doubts about his ability to stay on the field, and they are reasonable. Polanco has missed 70 games in the last two seasons combined. Now, he's a year older.
The back, elbow and abdominal injuries that befell him are healed. Polanco hit .398 last April and .243 for the rest of the season, a sign that his body broke down.
What are your expectations for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard this season?
|I expect him to rebound and have a solid season.|
|| 391 (59.1%)
|I’ll be happy if he returns and splits time with Jim Thome.|
|| 86 (13.0%)
|I have a bad feeling this is the beginning of the end.|
|| 185 (27.9%)
Total votes = 662
What does he want to forget from 2011?
"Everything," he said. "Everything but the Gold Glove."
Polanco had offseason surgery to repair a double sports hernia. Doctors told him one of the tears was serious and the other was about to reach that point. Polanco said it wasn't the pain that bothered him during the year, but the general weakness that overcame his body. When Polanco wanted to do actual baseball work before games, he was bound to the trainer's room for additional treatment just to keep him on the field.
He said he spent the winter taking ground balls, running and hitting. He is cleared to participate fully in spring training, but Charlie Manuel said earlier in the week he could limit Polanco in Grapefruit League play. That would ideally keep Polanco fresher for the season.
Polanco said Wednesday he was unaware of any such plans. He had yet to speak with Manuel. For now, Polanco plans on proceeding as usual.
"You have to think like that," Polanco said. "You can't think, 'Oh, I'm going to get hurt.' I got fixed. I did a good rehab. So, we'll see. I think I'm going to stay healthy."
New acquisition Ty Wigginton started 62 games at third base for Colorado in 2011 and will provide insurance at third. But asked how many games he'd like to play in 2012, Polanco set his sights high.
"The goal is... how many games do we play?" Polanco said.
One hundred sixty-two, he was told.
"That's the goal," he said.
The Phillies will pay Polanco $6.25 million in the final year of a three-year deal. He has a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013.
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