The Phillies just announced their lineup for Game 1 of the National League Division Series and there is an omission that is both surprising and notable: veteran third baseman Placido Polanco is not starting at third base. Instead, utility man Wilson Valdez is at third and hitting eighth.
Polanco has battled a sore elbow all season, but a Phillies spokesman said today that the veteran third baseman is not in the lineup because of back soreness. Manager Charlie Manuel said Polanco told him yesterday that he had a stiff back and that it got worse overnight. Polanco told him today that he could not bend over or move side to side, Manuel said.
As for a prognosis for Friday's Game 2, the Phillies are hopeful, but Manuel said they would just have to wait and see.
Polanco's elbow condition, which required a fourth cortisone shot of the season last Wednesday, is believed to be caused by a bone chip. The injury a painful one that limited Polanco to 132 games during the regular season. But Polanco said yesterday that he felt good, and there was no indication that he was in danger of missing Game 1.
"It's good," Polanco said.
Apparently, though, the back is not good.
The loss of Polanco for at least Game 1 is a big one. The 34-year-old led all National League third baseman with a .986 fielding percentage (Reds third baseman Scott Rolen was second at .977). He also hit .298 with a .339 on base percentage, driving in 52 runs and scoring 76.
Valdez hit .258 with a .306 on base percentage and .667 OPS during the regular season, driving in 35 runs and scoring 37 with four home runs in 333 at-bats. Valdez played seven games at third, three of them starts, and did not make an error in 15 chances. Valdez started 50 games at short stop in place of Jimmy Rollins and 35 games at second in place of Chase Utley. He combined to committ just three erros at al three positions this season.
Because Polanco, the Phils' normal No. 2 hitter, is out of the lineup, Manuel decided to put Jimmy Rollins back at his usual spot atop the order, followed by Shane Victorino. Manuel indicated that he would not have had Rollins at the top of the lineup if Polanco had been available.
Here is the Game 1 lineup:
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Carlos Ruiz C
Wilson Valdez 3B
Roy Halladay RHP
Red finalize roster
The Reds have left veteran centerfielder Jim Edmonds off the roster for this series and instead have tabbed infielder Juan Francisco. Edmonds hit 11 homers in 246 at-bats and would have supplied a bit of power off Dusty Baker's bench, but he's still bothered by an injured Achilles' tendon.
Francisco spent most of this season in the minors. The 23-year-old hit .273 in 36 games with the Reds, mostly as a pinch-hitter but with a few starts at third base. He struck out 20 times in 59 plate appearances and, like many of his teammates, has never appeared in the postseason.
The Reds starting lineup for today's game (bats):
1. Brandon Phillips (R), 2B
2. Orlando Cabrera (R), SS
3. Joey Votto (L), 1B
4. Scott Rolen (R), 3B
5. Jonny Gomes (R), LF
6. Jay Bruce (L), RF
7. Drew Stubbs (R), CF
8. Ramon Hernandez (R), C
9. Edinson Volquez (R), P