Polanco playing through aches and pains

Placido Polanco underwent surgery on his left elbow during the offseason. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Placido Polanco is paying attention to the All-Star voting because he wants to be the guy starting at third base when the National League takes on the American League July 12 in Phoenix.

"Of course," he said before Tuesday night's game at Busch Stadium. "It would be special because it's the fans voting for you and it means they appreciate what you do. No fans, no game, so it's special."

Polanco is the only Phillies player leading at his position and he has been since the voting started. He currently is more than a million votes ahead of Atlanta's Chipper Jones. Polanco ranks second among all National League second baseman with a .295 average and is also second with 38 RBIs.

Despite those numbers, he has been in a prolonged decline since May 1. He batted .398 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in April, but has hit .233 with two home runs and 19 RBIs since.

Manager Charlie Manuel gave Polanco the day off Sunday in Seattle and said the veteran third baseman was experiencing various aches and pains. Polanco was back in the lineup batting fifth Tuesday night against St. Louis.

"It's just the same stuff you have and everybody has after 80 games," Polanco said. "It's not anything that is going to keep me from playing."

Polanco, 35, underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his left elbow during the offseason and he said the elbow can still be painful at times.

"After you have surgery for something like that, there is always going to be soreness," Polanco said.

Polanco started at second base and batted eighth for the American League in the 2007 All-Star Game.

First baseman Ryan Howard remained fourth in the fan voting while second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins ranked third. Shane Victorino ranked sixth among outfielders in the voting.

With St. Louis' Albert Pujols sidelined by a wrist injury, Howard could conceivably end up on the All-Star team if manager Bruce Bochy opts to take three first basemen as Manuel did last year.

Worley will start Friday

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Vance Worley will start Friday's interleague game against the Oakland Athletics at Citizens Bank Park and Kyle Kendrick has returned to the bullpen. Dubee said Kendrick was available for Tuesday's game.



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