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Polanco's finger on the mend

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Placido Polanco took a big step toward returning from a sprained ring finger on his left hand when he participated in batting practice Thursday morning at Bright House Field.

"I felt pretty good hitting," said Polanco, who has been out of the lineup since Sunday after he jammed his finger diving back into first base on an attempted pickoff throw. "It hurts a little bit."

Polanco's injured finger was wrapped in tape, but most of the swelling is gone, according to Polanco. He said he will not be able to return to the lineup until he has less pain gripping the bat, but he will continue to take batting practice.

"There is no stepping back now," he said.

Polanco addressed the issue that the Phillies will open this season without second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard, the heart of the team's batting order.

"There is no replacing Chase and there is no replacing Howard," Polanco said. "You just go out and do your job and see what happens."

It's imperative that Polanco be healthy under the circumstances and he said aside from the finger injury he has felt good throughout spring training.

Polanco said he'd be willing to play second base if the team asked him to do that, but he said no such request has been made by manager Charlie Manuel or general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"You know me, I will do whatever," Polanco said. "We're here to win. I've done it before."

Polanco said he has also been impressed by Freddy Galvis' ability to move from shortstop to second base despite having almost zero experience at second.

"Wow, he's really impressed me," Polanco said.

Polanco, at 36, is definitely on the downside of his career, but he said he does not mind being considered old.

"That's their opinion," he said. "I'm pretty sure the people saying that are older than me. Seriously, I don't mind. I kind of like it because I can have a good year and prove them wrong."