Phillies Notebook: Polanco doesn't start because of sore elbow

Posted: August 24, 2010

PLACIDO POLANCO was out of the lineup last night because of a minor flare-up in the sore left elbow that has plagued him since April. But Charlie Manuel reacted testily when a reporter asked if the day off was something he might try to do more of to keep his hot-hitting third baseman healthy down the stretch.

"I ain't trying to do nothing, man," Manuel said. "I want to put the best team possible on the field. That's all I'm trying to do. I ain't trying to do a damn thing. Seriously."

But is he keeping a close eye on Polanco, who missed 18 games in June and July with what the team called elbow tendinitis, for which it has said that he will likely need surgery in the offseason?

"I guess you could call it that," Manuel said. "I've only got two [eyes]. I ain't trying to do nothing. I'm trying to win the game, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying for us to win the game."

Polanco did enter the game last night as a pinch-hitter and flied out to centerfield in the ninth inning of the 3-2 loss to Houston.

Polanco had started 34 straight games since returning from the disabled list on July 17, although he was removed in the seventh inning of a 15-9 loss to the Dodgers on Aug. 10 because of the elbow. The Phillies went 23-11 during that stretch as Polanco hit .317 with a .353 on-base percentage, 22 runs and 14 RBI. Overall, he has 61 runs, 41 RBI, and a team-leading .318 batting average.

Polanco went 2-for-3 with two RBI in the Phillies' 6-0 win over the Nationals on Sunday. Manuel indicated the soreness that sidelined him last night was minor.

"He's got a little soreness in his elbow," Manuel said. "I don't want you to make a big deal out of it. Like I said before, he'll swing sometimes, or a check swing, things like that, he'll feel something in his elbow. Or dive for balls and stuff like that, that's been going on. He's all right. Just give him a blow today."

Will he be able to play tonight, the second of a four-game series against the Astros?

"I think so, yeah," Manuel said.

Sutter hired

The Phillies made an interesting move yesterday, hiring Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter to help evaluate their pitching staffs at Lehigh Valley and Reading for the remainder of their seasons, which run through the first week of September. Sutter is one of the top relievers in major league history - he won the National League Cy Young Award in 1979, one of his five seasons leading the league in saves - and the Phillies could be leaning heavily on their minor league system to fill bullpen spots next season.

Reading features 22-year-old righthanded closer Justin DeFratus, who has displayed a live arm and impeccable command since moving into the bullpen for low-A Lakewood last season. DeFratus has saved 19 games for high-A Clearwater and Double A Reading this season, with excellent strikeout and walk ratios (9.6 K/nine innings, 2.1 BB/9) and a 1.65 ERA.

Other players Sutter will have his eyes on include righty Michael Stutes and lefty Michael Schwimer, in addition to more well-known commodities like Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and B.J. Rosenberg.

"Over the next several weeks, Bruce is going to help us evaluate our pitching staffs at Lehigh Valley and Reading," assistant GM Chuck LaMar said in a statement. "Having someone with his expertise who can help us with our prospects is outstanding."

Phillers

Wilson Valdez, who has primarily served as a replacement for shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley, made his third start of the season at third base last night . . . Roy Oswalt, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a win over the Nationals Sunday, will not face his former Astros team. His next scheduled start is Friday against the Padres in San Diego.

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