First baseman, Jim Thome
Doesn't it seem like it as yesterday that free agent Jim Thome was introduced at a Flyers game at the First Union/Wachovia/Wells Fargo Center? Wasn't it just the other day that the Local 98 boys were patting Big Jim on the back and exchanging handshakes with the guy they wanted as their team's first baseman?
But it has been over 9 years. (Well, 9 years and a couple-three months).
And it's been a pretty long time since Jim Thome had to play first base for longer than an inning, too.
On June 13, 2007, back when Philadelphia was still waiting for its first parade in close to a quarter century, Jim Thome played eight innings at first base for the Chicago White Sox.
Since leaving the Phils in 2005, Thome has played all of 28 innings in the field. But he's getting his leather loose today as minor league games open at the Carpenter Complex.
Thome is scheduled to begin his return to first base by playing 4-5 innings at the position today. The Phillies plan to work Thome in slowly in minor league camp before throwing him in a major league exhibition game this month.
Here is what Thome had to say about it yesterday:
"I haven’t done it in quite a while so it will be fun to get back out there for sure."
Feel prepared after taking regular work there in first few weeks of camp?
"We’ve been doing our work. That’s no worries there, just have to continue to try to make improvement. Any time you haven’t done something in 6 or 7 years, you know there are going to be those steps you have to take to get where you wan to get. We’ve been trying to do that, and its been great."
Expect just to play a few innings here and there?
"Whatever Charlie wants me to do, I’ll do. I don’t think he’s going to run me out there for 9 innings, but I think we’ll build it up, come along as I get my body settled in with it."
Charlie Manuel said earlier this spring that 20 starts there this season could be a plan?
"I try not to put a number of games on it, I go off of how I’m going to feel rather than I’m going to play this amount or that amount. In baseball things always change. Charlie is the guy, if that’s the number he wants to do, great. We’ll give it the best we've got. On the days I’m not playing, I'll be ready to pinch hit, to come off the bench and try to get a big hit. And to be a guy on the bench for some of the young guys, too. There are a lot of different things you can do, especially when you’re not playing. If it's 20 (games), to me it’s not about me, it's about our team. It's whatever my role is best for this team, that’s what we’ll do."