Thome joins crowded DL
He was encouraged that his back had felt better with each passing day since coming out of a game Saturday; but he was also realistic, saying he wouldn't be available to play against the Braves that night and that he understood the predicament his balky back had put Charlie Manuel in.
“This is about our team, No. 1. It’ll always be about that,” Thome said Tuesday. “I certainly don’t want to put Charlie in an uncomfortable position every night not having a guy ready. I understand that part of the game. I’ve been playing a long time and I understand that. But there’s also the sense to get back as quick as we can.”
Although Thome felt he could be ready within the week, the Phillies placed the future Hall of Famer on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday morning with a back strain. Catcher Erik Kratz was called up from Triple- Lehigh Valley to fill Thome's spot on the 25-man roster.
Even if Thome would have been healthy enough to play by week's end, as he suggested, both he and Manuel also saw the advantage of a DL stint in getting the slugger's bat back in gear. Thome is hitting .111 (2-for-18) with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 18 games this season.
Thome, who is 8th on the all-time home run list with 604, hasn't hit a home run this season. He didn't hit one in 17 games in spring training, either.
From Manuel's standpoint, the longer Thome sat this week, the longer his already-cold bat could go stale. A trip to the DL will allow Thome to get regular at-bats on a rehab assignment before being activated.
"The longer he sits there sometimes, I think he needs to go hit," Manuel explained Tuesday afternoon, when the Phils were mulling over the decision. "When you sit there and you’re not playing and not doing anything and you’re not getting at-bats … it usually takes you a while to get going.”
Since the move is retroactive to Sunday, Thome is eligible to return on Monday, May 14, when the Phils begin a two-game series at Citizens Bank Park against the Houston Astros.
In Thome's place, Kratz provides a right-handed power bat to a mostly left-handed bench. The 31-year-old Kratz, who went to Christopher Dock High in Lansdale, was hitting .294 with three home runs and an .882 OPS in 14 games with the IronPigs this season.
Kratz hit .288 with 15 home runs, 53 RBIs, an .838 OPS and .372 on-base percentage in 103 games at Lehigh Valley last season. Kratz, a catcher, would more than likely be used in the same manner as Thome: as a bat off the bench that could possibly provide Manuel with power.
When Manuel wrote out his lineup card Tuesday, his bench had just one right-handed hitter: John Mayberry Jr.
Thome joins a crowded DL: All-Stars Ryan Howard (left Achilles), Chase Utley (left knee) and Cliff Lee (left oblique), utility infielder Michael Martinez (right foot) and right-handed relievers Mike Stutes (right shoulder) and David Herndon (right elbow).