When you carry just four outfielders on your roster, this is, I guess, one of the possible end results.
The Phils started Placido Polanco, a career second and third baseman, in left field tonight, replacing injured Pat Burrell (groin). Was it Polanco's first start in the outfield? Well, it was Polanco's first appearance in the outfield in his major-league career. He's played every infield position (except catcher), but never the outfield in seven-plus years in the majors.
He handled all five chances his way, but it brought back memories of "The Bull" at his best (or Manny Ramirez at his worst). Every ball hit his way was an adventure.
But the strategy worked. The Phils got both of their second basemen, Chase Utley and Polanco, both of whom have been among the Phils' best offensive players this year, in the lineup. And they went 3-for-8 with one run and three runs batted in to help the Phils edge the Nats, 5-4.
The Phils had led 5-1 but had to withhold a near-meltdown by Billy Wagner in the ninth. Wagner allowed two hits with two outs but got Jose Vidro to fly out to end the game and keep his record perfect for 2005.
Though they won, the scars are really beginning to show. What do they do the next time an outfielder is injured? In this case, oddly, Kenny Lofton was not used even though the Nat starter, Day, was a righty. What happens if it's a lefty next time? How can they keep getting ABs for both Polanco and Utley. Considering how they have screwed up every young player that the organization has spit out since Jimmy Rollins, I guess, I'm not optimistic.
Lieberthal is DOA. And yet there isn't a viable catcher option below the age of 30 in the organization, at least above Double-A. He appears to have nothing left at all.
Corey Lidle survived but did scatter eight hits in six innings. Worrell gave up his daily run. Wagner showed some of the shakiness that plagued him last year.
But there was a bright spot: Jose Offerman, pinch-hitter extraordinaire, got a hit, his third of the season, to up his average to a cool .200. The Phils are wasting a roster spot on the superannuated Offerman, whose best defensive position is pinch-hitter, even though the Phils have better, younger options, who could potentially play defensive position but are languishing in the minors.