Manuel favors upgrade at third base spot

Manuel favors upgrade at third base spot

Manuel favors upgrade at third base spot
PHILADELPHIA -- After the Phillies struggled to keep their everyday third baseman on the field the last two seasons, manager Charlie Manuel voiced his support of an upgrade on Wednesday.

Placido Polanco, regarded as one of the best two-strike hitters in the game, certainly brings a plate approach general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., wants from the offense in 2012. But injuries, including hip and sports hernia, have hurt his offensive production. Polanco had surgery on Tuesday to repair two sports hernias, which could cost him the beginning of the season.

"If we need to upgrade and we can, we should do it," Manuel said on Wednesday.

Polanco, 36, ranked 15th in on-base percentage (.335) and 27th in slugging (.339) among all third basemen with at least 300 plate appearances. After hitting .398 in April, Polanco hit .243 the rest of the season, not including a 2-for-19 showing in the National League Division Series.

Polanco is guaranteed $6.25 million next season, but that shouldn't handcuff the Phillies from exploring other options. Manuel doesn't think the Phillies necessarily need a power-hitting third baseman, but age and durability are factors they will consider when assessing the offseason shopping list.

"If we can stay healthy, it gets back to that being a key," Manuel said. "Being healthy and being on the field is going to take care of a lot of things."