Phils notes: Polanco still sore; Oswalt rejoins team


NEW YORK -- The back injury that has sidelined Placido Polanco since July 5 remains problematic for the All-Star third baseman, who said that he is still sore two days after taking batting practice.

Polanco told that he wasn't sure if the soreness was simply from taking batting practice after days of inactivity or something larger. Nevertheless, he decided to relax at CitiField on Sunday.

Polanco was placed on the disabled list on Friday, back dated to July 5, and is eligible to return to action on Wednesday when the Phillies wind up a three-game series in Chicago. If the injury does not settle down for Polanco, he can have an injection. That was the plan of treatment for pitcher Roy Oswalt, who also is on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his back.

It seems as if the back soreness had been bothering Polanco for a while given that he was on an 0 for 15 slide before he went out. It's been a Jeckyll and Hyde season for the two-time All-Star given that he set the franchise record with 41 hits in a month during April, but knocked just 47 hits in May and June combined. Since finishing the first month with a .398 batting average, Polanco is hitting just .232, which has been linked to his bad back.

With Polanco on the bench, manager Charlie Manuel has used both Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez at third base. In his first professional action at third base, Martinez has filled in admirably. In Sunday's 8-5 victory over the Mets, the rookie Rule 5 man slugged his first career home run and had a career-high four RBIs. In the last game before the All-Star break, Martinez had a four-hit game, as well.

Since Polanco last played, Martinez has boosted his batting average from .189 to .215 by going 7 for 25 with a triple, a homer and eight RBIs.

In the meantime, Polanco plans to accompany the team to Chicago and, depending upon his progress (or lack thereof), decide on his next course of treatment.

Hot bats
Part of the reason why the Phillies have the best record in the majors is the fact that the team has received contributions from players like Martinez when the All-Stars go down with an injury. In the eight games played with Martinez and Valdez in the lineup, the team is 5-3 and maintained the 3 12 games advantage over the Braves in the NL East.

Another reason for the club's stellar record has been their ability to ride the coattails of a hot hitter for a bit. Lately that player has been Jimmy Rollins, who laced out three more hits in Sunday's victory to go with two RBIs. Batting in the first two spots in the lineup, Rollins and Martinez knocked in six of the eight runs in Sunday's victory.

Rollins has been at it for a little while now. Over his last 11 games the shortstop is 20 for 50 with seven runs scored and seven RBIs. He has also swiped three bags in four attempts over that span and raised his batting average from .251 to .271.
Pitching in
Speaking of bulging discs, Oswalt rejoined the team in New York after receiving an injection for his back injury last week in Texas. He plans on throwing a bullpen session on Tuesday in Chicago.

"He saw the doctor and is doing very well," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "It just depends on how many rehab outings we want him to have. He has continued to throw, so it's a matter of him getting out on the mound, feeling comfortable and expanding the number of pitches. I think he will be able to build himself up faster than in a spring training situation."

Meanwhile, injured reliever Jose Contreras will hook up with the team in Chicago and will begin a throwing program. Proefrock says Contreras is eyeing a return for the stretch run.

The same goes for Joe Blanton, who Proefrock said had a "hiccup" in his rehab from elbow inflammation. Proefrock says Blanton could return to Philadelphia to visit with team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti.

Looking sharp
After a 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI on Saturday for Double A Reading, rehabbing outfielder Shane Victorino went 1 for 3 with a steal of home. He will join the team in Chicago on Monday.

Meanwhile, Brad Lidge pitched in back-to-back games for the first time during his slate of rehab outings on Sunday, allowing a pair of hits with two strikeouts. One of the hits against Lidge came when he botched a play while covering first base.

Out with a tear in his shoulder, Lidge has pitched in six rehab games and likely will pitch in one more this week before possibly returning next weekend when the Phillies return home.

"This is spring training all over for him," Proefrock said. "Usually in spring training, he'll have nine, 10 outings before he's ready, and he hasn't gotten to that point yet."
End of the streak
Closer of the moment, Antonio Bastardo, notched the first four-out save of his career in Sunday's win over the Mets, but he allowed a run in the ninth inning on a double and triple. The run was the first the lefty had allowed in 18 games.

In 38 outings this season, Bastardo has a 1.02 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 35 13 innings.

Of the club's 26 saves this season, Bastardo's on Sunday was the first of more than an inning.

E-mail John R. Finger at

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