His once-separated left shoulder doesn't hurt the same all the time. He can hit his trademark line drive to right-center field without feeling too much pain, and he can feel pretty comfortable turning a double play. He feels it when he swings through a pitch and misses, which is manageable for one of the game's toughest players to strike out. He can count on it when he's going to have to stretch out for a ball and hit the grass.
Polanco had a pretty good idea that he was going to hurt if he dove for Bobby Abreu's ground ball in the sixth inning of Game 1 on Tuesday night. He took the dive anyway. He missed the ball, felt the impact with the ground, but eventually shook it off.
Still, it's an example that playing well shouldn't be confused with playing healthy.
"I have to find out how to dive without hurting," he said, "Every time you do that, it's tough."
The shoulder hasn't popped back out, but it's something to be careful about. As teammate Brandon Inge can attest, once a shoulder pops out of its socket, it becomes easier to repeat.
Right now, Polanco is playing well. At the plate, he has looked better than expected with his swing, if not his statistics. He pulled two hits on Tuesday, including an RBI double and a two-out single, sandwiched between two inning-ending double plays. He's expected to bat leadoff on Friday night in Game 3 against Randy Johnson.
Leyland has no concerns with Polanco sticking it out.
Hurry up and wait: Of all the adjustments the Tigers have had to encounter in their first trip to the postseason since 1987, the most subtle one goes unnoticed -- not by anyone watching on television, anyway.
Because prime-time playoff games are on such a national stage on broadcast network television, the commercial breaks tend to last longer than regular-season contests or playoff games on cable. Not only does it add to the total game time, it usually forces a change in between-inning warmups. Otherwise, a pitcher will wrap up his warmup tosses and be left standing around.
"You notice it," first baseman Sean Casey said, "but it doesn't really affect the game."
Nate Robertson noticed some between-inning breaks clocked at just under three minutes on Tuesday night. Because the home-plate umpire gives pitchers fair warning, he can alter his work to fill the time.
"I typically get loose pretty quick," Robertson said. "I get up there, I throw my pitches and I get rolling. I like to keep the pace of the game going. I'm not one of those human rain delays, as they call them. The only thing I had to do was slow it down. I actually added a couple extra [warmup] pitches that I wouldn't normally need. I'd rather not have those delays, but it's postseason baseball."
Not just happy to be here: Leyland read his players' reactions to Game 1, saying that they believed they showed that they can play with the Yankees despite the loss. He understood the comments, but he wasn't buying it.
"We haven't done [anything] to me," Leyland said. "I don't like that at all. You can talk till you're blue in the face, but you have to go out and do it. You have to win the game. If we win [Game 2], boom, all of a sudden, we're going home, 1-1, with two out of the next three at home. You play this out."
Leyland doesn't believe that his players are here just to be respectable -- they're here to win. But he does credit them for not letting the postseason atmosphere get to them.
"We came out and played last night," he said. "I don't have any problem with that. I think they think [about winning]. I don't think there's anybody that's trying to say we stayed with them."
Line of the day: Leyland hasn't had an abundance of one-liners in press conferences, but he had a quick answer when someone asked him about old-school managers.
"I'm old," the 61-year-old skipper said, "but I don't know if I'm old-school."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.