Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco came out of Saturday’s game against the Giants with what was first called a hip injury. It was an issue Polanco said he’d been dealing with for about a month now.
The exact nature of the injury wasn’t known, so Polanco went in for an MRI today in Philadelphia. According to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., the scan revealed that Polanco is suffering from a chronic sports hernia.
The 35 year-old Polanco has been battling injuries pretty consistently the past couple years, from bone chips in his elbow that required surgery last offseason to a back issue that landed him on the disabled list already this season, it seems Polanco is just breaking down.
Combine that with the Phillies recent history of being less than truthful at best about injuries, it’s hard to accept any type of prognosis from the team at value. And not surprisingly, Amaro downplayed this latest one.
“Frankly, a lot of guys have sports hernias,” Amaro said, per the Inquirer. “It’s a matter of whether the discomfort is so great that he can’t play. If it is, we’ll have a procedure done and go from there.”
The first course of treatment will be an anti-inflammatory injection, which Polanco will receive Tuesday in Philadelphia. He will then be re-evaluated by team doctors on Friday to check his progress and and pain threshold.
“I think we can manage him through it,” Amaro said. “We’ll find out more Friday.”
If the pain isn’t manageable, Polanco could have surgery, which Amaro said could keep him out for up to a month. Of course, that’s a pretty generous estimate. Most sports hernia surgeries have the patient out of action for at least 6-8 weeks. Raul Ibanez suffered through a similar condition in 2009, ultimately waiting to have surgery in the offseason. Amaro says that was worse than Polanco’s version.
“Ibanez’s was pretty debilitating to him,” Amaro said.
Either way, Polanco is definitely out the rest of this week, and considering Chase Utley’s knee went from a non-issue to him missing almost half the season, it seems inevitable that Polanco will be out for a significant amount of time.
The conversation then turns to who picks up Polanco’s slack. Amaro indicated that Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez will share duties as Polanco’s temporary replacements.
“We have guys who can fill in fine,” Amaro said. “They will be the ones who will play.”
Since neither can hit, it’s probably an either/or situation depending on how manager Charlie Manuel is feeling on a given day. At least both are competent defensively.
There’s also the possibility that the Phillies will look to add a piece through a waiver-wire transaction, via a straight claim or a trade. The deadline to make a move is August 31, so the team will have a pretty good idea where Polanco stands at that point.
The problem there though is that any quality players waived will be unlikely to fall to the Phillies considering the team’s low level on the waiver priority scale. The only real way that happens is if the player dropped has an obnoxious salary, which means the Phillies would pass on putting in a claim anyway. If the player passes unclaimed, it would then come down to working out a deal, with the Phillies likely insisting that the waiving team pick up some of the remaining contract.
The good news though is that with the Four Aces back in action and Hunter Pence in the lineup the Phillies are well prepared to absorb Polanco’s loss. The best course of action would seem to be to let him get the surgery, take two months to heal up and give his 35 year-old body a general rest, and have him return just in time for the playoffs.