Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Separation Anxiety: Polanco Might Be Out For Playoffs

I'm sure if Jimmy Leyland had his druthers, he would have decided to have Doug Mirabelli's bloop fall in for a hit, even though it tied the game in the late innings, rather than have Placido Polanco make an acrobatic, rolling and tumbling catch, thus saving the run. For Polanco is now out indefinitely with a separated shoulder, directly because of the catch that prevented the tying run from scoring in the seventh inning of last night's 3-2 victory over Boston.

But good players only know how to play the game one way -- hard. So there was absolutely no doubt that when you saw Mirabelli's dying duck flutter into shallow centerfield, Polanco would do whatever he could to catch it before it hit the grass. He did, but may have taken himself out of action for the rest of the season, possibly including the playoffs. We'll know more after the requisite MRI is completed today.

The Tigers can hardly bark at the injury gods. They've been relatively unscathed this season -- Mike Maroth and Dmitri Young notwithstanding. Both of those players' absences were filled admirably by teammates. And the extent of Polanco's injury -- since it's still unknown -- might not be all that bad after all.

But even if Polanco is indeed lost for the season -- which is a distinct possibility -- the Tigers' goose is certainly not cooked. They've shown a resilience and esprit de corps that hasn't been seen in these parts for seemingly ever. They'll miss Polanco's bat-handling skills and patience at the plate, not to mention his defense. That's for sure. Still, hasn't the hallmark of these 2006 Tigers been the fact that there isn't any one player who has carried the team on his back? Isn't it true that if you asked 20 Tigers fans who the team's MVP has been this season, you might get half as many answers?

The truth is, many different Tigers have taken turns being the team's MVP this season, sometimes for days at a time. The MVP award for this team is like a baton -- passed throughout the lineup. It's a distinction that's been borrowed by players, not owned.

So it says here that even though Placido Polanco is no less a major part of the Tigers' resurgence than anyone else, the team can and will overcome his absence, one way or another. Already there's talk that GM Dave Dombrowski might look outside the organization for second base help, should Polanco's injury be major. It's a formula that has worked, so far, in the case of Sean Casey, when the Tigers needed a lefthanded bat.

Get well soon, Placido. But just know that your team is greater than the sum of its parts.


Blogger Ozz said...

A defining characteristic of the 2006 Tigers is that a lot -- A LOT -- of things have gone right all at the same time. However, another defining characteristic is that when things have not gone right, including injuries, they've been able to rebound and overcome the obstacles.

1:23 AM  

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