© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/12/11 4:10 PM EST

Manuel favors upgrade at third base spot

PHILADELPHIA -- After the Phillies struggled to keep their everyday third baseman on the field the last two seasons, manager Charlie Manuel voiced his support of an upgrade on Wednesday.

Placido Polanco, regarded as one of the best two-strike hitters in the game, certainly brings a plate approach general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., wants from the offense in 2012. But injuries, including hip and sports hernia, have hurt his offensive production. Polanco had surgery on Tuesday to repair two sports hernias, which could cost him the beginning of the season.

"If we need to upgrade and we can, we should do it," Manuel said on Wednesday.

Polanco, 36, ranked 15th in on-base percentage (.335) and 27th in slugging (.339) among all third basemen with at least 300 plate appearances. After hitting .398 in April, Polanco hit .243 the rest of the season, not including a 2-for-19 showing in the National League Division Series.

Polanco is guaranteed $6.25 million next season, but that shouldn't handcuff the Phillies from exploring other options. Manuel doesn't think the Phillies necessarily need a power-hitting third baseman, but age and durability are factors they will consider when assessing the offseason shopping list.

"If we can stay healthy, it gets back to that being a key," Manuel said. "Being healthy and being on the field is going to take care of a lot of things."

Jordan hired as director of player development

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies hired Joe Jordan on Wednesday to be their director of player development.

Jordan, who was with the Orioles for the past seven seasons, was responsible for drafting catcher Matt Wieters, outfielder Nolan Reimold and pitchers Zach Britton and Brian Matusz.

Prior to joining Baltimore, Jordan spent eight years with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins. He replaces Chuck LaMar, who resigned last month. LaMar carried the title of assistant general manager, although Jordan will not assume that additional role.

"We couldn't be happier to bring Joe aboard as our new player development director," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said in a press release. "He is widely respected around the game and his resume speaks for itself."

Jordan is the second Orioles executive to leave for Philadelphia in the last three years. Scott Proefrock joined the Phillies before the 2009 season to become assistant general manager. Proefrock is considered a potential candidate for the Orioles' vacant general manager position.

Mayberry will get chance for regular duty

PHILADELPHIA -- John Mayberry Jr., will get the opportunity to be an everyday Major League player in 2012.

Manager Charlie Manuel on Wednesday echoed statements made by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., that left field is Mayberry's position to lose.

"I think he will get to play more this coming season than he did this year," Manuel said. "When I talked to John Mayberry last year at this time, Ruben Amaro and I thought it was time, at his age and with the time he spent in the Minor Leagues, to see if he could play in the big leagues. He proved that he can be a good big league player. He will get every chance in the world to be a regular player."

Since he was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 5, Mayberry hit .301 with a .358 on-base and .607 slugging percentage in 59 games. Of his 49 hits, 25 went for extra bases.

Mayberry could start the season at first base because of the Achilles injury to Ryan Howard. But if Howard is expected to miss a large portion of the regular season, the Phillies will likely acquire a first baseman via free agency or trade and stick Mayberry in left.

Phils looking to fortify bench options

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are exploring potential tweaks to their bench for the 2012 season.

"I had a meeting with [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] the other day and it was very positive," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Him and I are talking quite a bit about the team, and our bench is one of those positions."

The Phillies used 105 different lineups in 2011 and still won 102 games, a credit to the depth at the Major League level. They were forced to carry utility infielders Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez and Pete Orr because of health concerns for Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley throughout the season.

Ross Gload, who led the Majors with 18 pinch-hits, is not expected to return after arthroscopic hip surgery this offseason, leaving a void for a left-handed bat off the bench. Domonic Brown fits the bill for a left-handed bat with the patient approach the Phillies are stressing in 2012, but Amaro wants Brown playing a full season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley before reassessing his future role. Raul Ibanez, another free agent, could re-sign with the Phillies for one year and become a potent left-handed option off the bench.

John Mayberry Jr., was Manuel's best option off the bench for much of the year, but he's projected to be the starting left fielder in 2012. Ben Francisco remains a strong right-handed option off the bench.

Howard undergoes surgery on torn Achilles

PHILADELPHIA -- First baseman Ryan Howard underwent surgery on his ruptured left Achilles on Wednesday in Baltimore. Dr. Mark Myerson performed the procedure.

The Phillies did not announce a timetable for Howard's return, but the normal recovery period is 4-6 months. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr., was optimistic Howard could return in April.

Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.