Polanco left [yesterday's] Grapefruit League game against the Toronto Blue Jays because of a hyperextended left elbow. He had surgery on the same elbow Oct. 29 to remove bone fragments and repair the extensor tendon.
“It’s right where I had the surgery, but it’s nothing bad,” he said. “I’ve had it before. I’ve had it a million times. But the fact that I had surgery in that elbow, we’re being safe. We’re playing it very safe. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and the next day, take it a day at a time.”
Without Polanco and Chase Utley, the Phillies have an infield comprised of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez, and a to-be-determined fourth wheel. Understandably, this has Phillies fans worried, but there are still two weeks left in spring training. Pessimists will say that it is simply two more weeks in which the aging Phillies can get injured, but the reality is that every team has players that collect bumps and bruises and suffer sprains and strains during spring training. Few of the injuries are season-threatening.
As an example, take the spring training injuries over the past two years in Phillies camp:
|Lidge||2010||39||Right elbow recovery|
|Victorino||2010||8||Right shoulder soreness|
|Polanco||2010||5||Right knee strain|
|Ruiz||2010||2||Left arm contusion|
|Hamels||2009||25||Left elbow inflammation|
|Lidge||2009||10||Right forearm tightness|
|Dobbs||2009||9||Right thigh strain|
|Durbin||2009||9||Right thigh soreness|
|Park||2009||9||Left thigh soreness|
|Werth||2009||8||Right shoulder strain (6),
Right groin strain (2)
|Eyre||2009||4||Right forearm tightness|
|Rollins||2009||1||Lower back soreness|
(Data courtesy Corey Dawkins’ Baseball Injury Tool)
With the exception of Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels, none of the injuries led to future injuries and significant time missed, or were a direct correlate to terrible on-field performance. By and large, when you scan over that list, you can’t find any injuries where you say, “Yep, that was the beginning of the end.”
That’s not to say that Utley’s patellar tendinitis isn’t worrisome, or that Lidge’s biceps tendinitis isn’t a harbinger of things to come. Those injuries are by no means good news. However, we have these scares multiple times every year and most of them turn out to be rather meaningless. The real problem here is that the Phillies have an image problem: they are viewed as old and fragile, and any spring training nicks and scratches will reinforce that belief — confirmation bias.
Spring training, like the first month of the regular season, does not lend itself well to legitimate analysis. Players are far too prone to wild swings of good and bad luck both in terms of health and performance. Don’t fret too much over the Phillies’ current health woes. Besides, it’s bad for your health!
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