Backed into a hot corner: Polanco out with stiff back

The Phillies battled injury throughout the 2010 season. Why should it be any different in the postseason?

Third baseman Placido Polanco didn’t play in Game 1 of the NLDS yesterday against Cincinnati due to a sore back.

“Yesterday, Polly [Polanco] had some stiffness in his middle back, soreness and stiffness,” manager Charlie Manuel said before Game 1. “And today, when he came to the ballpark, it was probably even worse. He came in and told me that he couldn’t bend over. He said it hurt when he turned left or right.”

Losing Polanco, who hit .298 with six home runs and 52 RBIs in the regular season is a big blow for the Phillies. Manuel isn’t sure when Polanco will
return to the lineup.

“I’m concerned,” Manuel said. “They [the Phillies medical staff] will have to give some kind of diagnosis on it.”

Super-sub Wilson Valdez, who hit .258 with four home runs and 35 RBIs, primarily spelling Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, will plug the hole at third. Manuel is confident that Valdez will fill the void.

“He’s had a big season for us,” Manuel said. “He’s a tremendous defensive player. He’s got a great arm. He can run and he got some big hits for us.”

Manuel isn’t certain whether he’ll have Polanco for Game 2, but the manager is sure the rest of his Phillies will face Reds hurler Bronson Arroyo on Friday.

Arroyo is one of the few Reds with significant playoff experience. And the former Red Sox starter anticipates a rude reception.

“I expect a very Yankee Stadium-esque environment,” Arroyo said. “Especially warming up in the bullpen. These guys are right on top of you. But I’ve always enjoyed it. I loved playing in stadiums when guys are screaming obscenities about my mother.”

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