Placido Polanco will get ailing back examined Thursday

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Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday for a second straight game with a pinched nerve in his back.

On Thursday, according to John R. Finger of CSNPhilly.com, the veteran infielder will visit a spinal cord specialist in the Philadelphia area to determine the exact severity of the injury.

Polanco has played through back discomfort for much of the 2011 regular season and it’s showing in his .274/.331/.346 batting line. But he was named to the National League All-Star roster on Sunday and is fully expecting to participate in the Midsummer Classic on July 12 in Phoenix.

“The more I’ve played it made it worse and worse,” said the 35-year-old. “I think that turf in Toronto made it worse. That didn’t help. Something that worries me a little is I’m feeling some numbness on my side, too. So we’ll go ahead and make sure it’s nothing bad, bad.”

None of that sounds good, but Polanco has pledged to play through the injury and the Phillies — without a better option at the hot corner — should continue allowing it. He may need regular days off down the stretch.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.