Placido Polanco was voted into the All-Star game as a starter yesterday despite a modest .681 OPS that ranks 59th among NL hitters and the third baseman admitted to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he’s been playing through a back injury:
I hate to use excuses, but it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right. My back is a little sore. I have a pinched nerve where I feel some numbness in my leg. It’s playable. It’s not painful to the point I can’t play.
Polanco got off to a great start, batting .398 in April, but he’s hit just .219 with an awful .541 OPS in 56 games since then, including 0-for-12 so far in July, dragging his season totals down to career-lows in batting average (.277), slugging percentage (.349), and OPS (.681).
It’s tough to say a player should be benched the day after he’s voted in as an All-Star game starter, but at some point it should become obvious that the Phillies will be better off giving Polanco at least the occasional day off in the second half. He’s not doing anyone any good by playing poorly through the injury every day.
The Red Sox, who won the AL East last season with a 93-69 record, have under-performed so far this season, entering Wednesday’s action with just two more wins than losses at 23-21. The club hasn’t had a winning streak of more than two games since April 15-18. As a result, manager John Farrell may be on the hot seat, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Tuesday.
Beyond the mediocre record, Rosenthal cites two incidents that happened this season that caused Farrell’s stock to drop. The first was the brouhaha with the Orioles when Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, causing Pedroia to suffer an injury. When reliever Matt Barnes intentionally threw a fastball at Machado, Pedroia was seen telling Machado, “It wasn’t me. It’s them.” The word “them,” of course, would ostensibly be referring to Barnes and Farrell.
The second incident happened last week when pitcher Drew Pomeranz challenged Farrell in the dugout after being removed with a pitch count of 97. Rosenthal suggests that some of Farrell’s players aren’t on the same page as the skipper.
Rosenthal also mentions that Farrell didn’t have the entire backing of the Red Sox clubhouse in 2013, when the club won the World Series. So the issues this year may not be unique; they may be part of a larger trend.
The biggest impediment in making a managerial change for the Red Sox is having a good candidate. After letting Torey Lovullo leave after last season to manage the Diamondbacks, the team’s two most likely interim candidates would be bench coach Gary DiSarcina and third base coach Brian Butterfield. DiSarcina has one year of managing experience above Single-A (Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013). Butterfield hasn’t managed in 15 years.