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Published: Friday, 12/4/2009

Tigers' Polanco returns to Phillies for $18M

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PHILADELPHIA - Placido Polanco is putting aside his Gold Glove and switching positions to have a chance at winning a championship.

Polanco returned to the Philadelphia Phillies yesterday, agreeing to an $18 million, three-year contract.

The 34-year-old free agent won Gold Gloves at second base for the Detroit Tigers in 2007 and this year but will shift to third base, which hasn't been his primary position since 2002. He replaces Pedro Feliz, who became a free agent after the Phillies declined his $5.5 million option.

"I always wanted to be here. I never wanted to leave," Polanco said. "One of the reasons I wanted to come back is because it's pretty obvious the team is committed to winning. And I want to win. That's it. They asked me if I was willing to play another position and I was like, 'Sure.' I can play third base. I played in college, in St. Louis, and I also played some third here. I feel pretty confident about it."

Polanco first joined the Phillies in the trade that sent Scott Rolen to St. Louis in July, 2002. He hit .297 with 38 homers and 160 RBIs in parts of four seasons in Philadelphia. Once Chase Utley become the regular second baseman, Polanco's role was reduced. He was traded to Detroit in June, 2005, for reliever Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez.

Polanco batted .285 for the Tigers last season with 31 doubles, 10 homers, and 72 RBIs. He hit .341 and made the All-Star team in 2007.

"For him to come back to Philadelphia to change positions, it's just one of the things he's about," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's not only a tremendous professional and a championship-type player, but he's a championship-type person, and that's what we're trying to do here, bring championship-type people, both talent-wise and personnel-wise."

Polanco gets a $500,00 signing bonus, $5 million next season, $5.25 million in 2011, and $6.25 million in 2012. The deal includes a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013 with a $1 million buyout.

"The Phillies were always my first choice," he said. "I played here, I know most of the guys here, I know the city. And they have a pretty good team that's committed to win. I thank all of the other teams that expressed interest in me, but the Phillies were always my first choice."

Polanco is a .303 hitter with 90 homers, 579 RBIs, and 71 stolen bases in 12 seasons.

He joins a potent lineup that features five all-stars - Utley, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Raul Ibanez - and former MVP Jimmy Rollins.



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