After a 2010 season where a nagging elbow injury kept him out of 30 games, Placido Polanco arrived at Spring Training Wednesday pain-free.
Polanco's 132 games played last year were his fewest since 2006. The Phillies' number two hitter only accounted for 52 RBI last year, and hasn't hit for fewer since his 2002 season, where he played for both the Cardinals and the Phils.
Polanco still was able to keep his batting average at about .300 (.298 to be exact), but he had a pretty good idea why his production fell off when his injury woes worsened with the wear-and-tear of the season.
Via David Hale of the Wilmington News Journal:
"It wasn't fun sometimes when it would hurt … preventing you from being 100 percent, being able to dive for a ball and get up," said Polanco, who led the National League in batting at .325 on Aug. 17, but hit just .235 with seven extra-base hits the rest of the season. "You have to extend, especially on pitches away. You have to finish your swing. It makes a big difference."
Seems pretty reasonable. I guess loose scar tissue and bone spurs can affect your swing. The good news is both issues were corrected this offseason, and the 35-year old third basemen seems ready to go. Let's just hope it stays that way.
Despite the Phillies epic starting rotation, the team's offense needs to be able to produce better than last year. Most of the potential for production was hindered last year by injuries. In addition to the 30 games Polanco spent off the diamond, the other three infielders (Rollins, Utley, and Howard) missed 140 games between them.
Combine that with the fact that all four men are over the age of 30, and you're forced to take into consideration that the "wear-and-tear" factor doesn't just result from injuries. Fatigue will also play a role in a undoubtedly long 162-game regular season.
The Phillies have the potential to win 100 games next season, maybe more, but the production is as necessary on the hitting side as it is likely with the team's pitching.
But all in all, it's good to hear that Polly is healthy… it's a good start. He should probably stay away from Antonio Bastardo, though. On top of elbow inflammation, the pitcher has seemingly come down with flulike symptoms…
…it's a superstition thing.