Placido Polanco has been battling a sore back for at least the last week, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel revealed prior to Monday's series opener against the Brewers. The veteran third baseman was not in the starting lineup, and was scheduled to be examined by team doctor Michael Ciiccotti. Polanco also had the day off on Saturday.
"He started telling me about it in Los Angeles (early last week)," Manuel said.
While Polanco's glove work remains solid at third base, the 36-year-old veteran is on track to finish with career lows in batting average (.255), on base percentage (.300) and slugging percentage (.628). After signing with the Phillies in 2010, Polanco hit .298/.339/.386, driving in 52 runs while scoring 76. But his production has slipped as injuries have mounted: he appeared in 132 games in 2010 and 122 in 2011.
The restrictions on Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are quickly disappearing as the veteran infielders get their legs back under them. Until today, neither player had started four straight games since returning from the disabled list.
"Somewhere along the line, I've got to turn them loose," Manuel said. "But at the same time, I don't want to overdo it. I don't want them to have a relapse and stuff like that. But sooner or later, I've got to let them play four games in a row. Figured we'd try today."
Utley entered Monday hitting .231 with a .292 on base percentage, .400 slugging percentage and 11 strikeouts, although he did have three home runs, nine RBI and seven runs in 72 plate appearances.
Howard was hitting just .182, but four of his six hits had gone for extra bases, including three home runs. He had five RBI, four runs and 11 strikeouts in 40 plate appearances.