MIAMI -- Marlins third baseman Placido Polanco has started 1,615 games in his 16-year career.
He had not hit cleanup until this season.
He has hit there four times and had been scheduled to hit there a fifth time Friday at Marlins Park until Miami scratched superstar Giancarlo Stanton because of a sore left shoulder. Polanco, who played for the Phillies from 2002-05 and 2010-12, has hit just 103 home runs in his career, including 10 or more in a season just three times. But after the mass change of the Marlins roster in the offseason, Miami signed Polanco to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. And after a good spring he has been hitting cleanup behind Stanton, and he batted third in the lineup on Friday with Stanton sitting out.
In a sense, it is surprising to see Polanco still in the big leagues, much less on a one-year, $2.75 million guaranteed contract. He has battled back injuries the past few seasons. But he said Friday he feels the best he has felt in years. He entered the night hitting .333 with three RBIs.
"It's pretty pleasing," Polanco said about his improved health and early success. "I was in a situation that if nobody called, that was good enough. I'd stay with the family. I've done enough. I've played baseball my entire life. Without a doubt I was going to miss it. I worked out hard and here I am. I'm at home and with a great chance, getting to play."
He hit .257 with 15 doubles, two home runs, 19 RBIs and a career-low .629 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 90 games last season. The Phillies placed him on the disabled list in early September, and eventually just sent him home.
"It was a little bit of a confusing situation, but I was hurt, my back was hurting," said Polanco, who lives just 15 minutes from Marlins Park. "I think it was very nice of them just letting me go home and rest it. I think it helped me. Here I am. It's the page I turned. I don't really want to talk about it. But I'm very pleased with the organization. They gave me a chance. I think the world of Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and the president of the team [David Montgomery] and everybody over there. The way they treated me. Not only this time but the first time around. As a matter of fact I have their gift from Christmas, the candies and all, me and my family said, 'Wow, what a classy organization.' We think the world of them."
Amaro: Delmon 'on the right track' toward returning
MIAMI -- Delmon Young needs to prove he can play right field before he joins the Phillies.
He is continuing to take steps toward that goal. He played seven innings in right field Thursday and Friday in extended Spring Training games in Clearwater, Fla. It is the first time he had played back-to-back games this spring.
"Delmon is not going to come here unless he can play right field," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "If he can't play right field, he ain't coming. The bat doesn't concern me nearly as much as how he's moving around and how well he's playing in the outfield. He's going to hit. I'm not that worried about that part of it. I'm more concerned about if he's going to be adequate in the outfield. So far he's been OK. We've been saying the same thing all along."
Asked how Young looked running, Amaro said, "He did OK. … He didn't get a lot of chances. He had one chance where he had to go back deep in the gap, and he made a pretty good play on it. He took a good angle on it. I was surprised."
Young is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week as he recovers from microfracture surgery on his right ankle. Once that begins, the Phillies have 20 days to activate him unless they feel he is not healthy enough to play.
"He's on the right track," Amaro said. "I think he's a lot more comfortable out there. He had to go to the line a couple of times. He hasn't had that many plays. He hasn't been challenged that much. He's only been challenged once or twice."
• Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched in a downpour in the ninth inning Wednesday against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. After he induced a double play, he approached home plate umpire John Hirschbeck, making a slashing gesture across his throat, like he had seen enough.
"I asked him if he really wanted to keep playing in this weather," Papelbon said. "Because when I got to my balance point I was getting blown over and everything." Hirschbeck's response? "Get back on the … mound," Papelbon said he told him.
• Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton might be considered the only legitimate threat in the Marlins lineup, so it would make sense to be careful with him this weekend at Marlins Park.
"We definitely don't want Stanton to beat us, yes," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He is a guy in their lineup that we fear the most, yes. I ain't saying how we're going to pitch him. … We'll see. Might come a time when you have to pitch to him, but that don't mean we want to. We don't want him hurting us in this series."
But the Marlins erased those concerns when they scratched Stanton before the game because of a sore left shoulder.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.