Polanco plays six pain-free innings

Placido Polanco played without pain Wednesday morning.

Nothing else the Phillies All-Star third baseman did during his six-inning rehab stint with triple-A Lehigh Valley was more significant than that.

“Maybe a month and a half ago,” Polanco said when asked the last time he did not feel numbness in his legs caused by a bulging disc in his back. “Maybe even longer. Maybe close to two months. It’s a big relief. I’m so happy. I feel like I can breathe again.”

Polanco went 0-for-2 with a walk and handled one pop up in the field during the IronPigs’ game against the Pawtucket Red Sox at Coca-Cola Park. He twice grounded out to second base before drawing a sixth-inning walk. The second ground out was the kind of sharply hit ball Polanco usually hits when he is feeling good.

After his walk, he was removed for a pinch-runner.

“I made contact,” he said. “I was able to see some pitches … and I felt good.”

Polanco, on the disabled list since July 5, wanted to avoid an injection to relieve the back pain, but finally gave in and two epidural shots apparently have provided the relief he needed to get back on the field.

“It’s over now,” he said. “I felt really good. I played six innings and I felt fine and was moving good.”

Polanco still has a few more tests to pass before he comes off the disabled list and returns to the second spot in manager Charlie Manuel’s batting order. He said he would like to have slid and fielded a few ground balls, but that could come Friday when he is scheduled to play nine innings for the IronPigs.

“I did kind of dive a little bit on a ground ball in the hole,” he said. “It was far from me, but I wanted to see how I felt. Now I need to get up tomorrow and have no pain because this is my first game in a while. I expect to have some soreness, but it will be good soreness.”

If Polanco plays nine more pain-free innings Friday, he should be back in Philadelphia for Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh.

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