That's the question Charlie Manuel had to answer before the Phillies begin a 10-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night. About four hours before game time, he came up with that answer: Placido Polanco.
Polanco, an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2011, was activated from the disabled list this afternoon. Polanco has been sidelined with lower back inflammation since July 23.
Meanwhile veteran utility man Kevin Frandsen had started 20 straight games at third base in Polanco's absence prior to Monday. All the 30-year-old Frandsen has done over that time is hit safely in 16 of 20 starts; he's batting .329 overall.
Polanco, who turns 37 in two months and becomes a free agent in three months, is hitting a career-low .255.
So, who's on third?
When asked about Polanco's ability to play everyday last week, Manuel was noncommittal and sounded very aware of the infielder's oft-injured status.
“I probably won’t be able to put him out there everyday,” Manuel said.
Polanco, on the other hand, said he was healthy enough to return to regular, everyday duty before beginning a three-game rehab assignment at Class A Clearwater over the weekend.
“I expect to be the everyday third baseman, but what I expect and what is going to happen could be two different things,” Polanco said five days ago in Miami. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just want to be healthy for whatever. If [Manuel] plays me he plays me. If not, I don’t know.”
While Manuel usually defers to his veterans, the guess here is the two split time over the next few weeks. But if Frandsen continues to swing a hot bat - and handles himself fine defensively - he could continue to get a longer look as someone who could fit into the Phillies plans in 2013, too.