Jim Thome, at 41 years-old, is in the best shape of his life. Perhaps in better shape than most younger players in the league today. It's pretty amazing to think that a guy who has had so many health problems when the Phillies traded him to the White Sox seven years ago, could be in such great shape today. Maybe it was the journey of chasing 600 home runs. Whatever is causing this, Jim Thome is in the best shape of his life and it will get him more playing time.
FOX Sports' John Paul Morosi spoke with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier this week, and along with being open to upgrading his teams' rotation and adding speed to the bench, Amaro spoke about this season's first base situation.
Ryan Howard is estimated to be back around late May, possible early June. But the team is not trying to rush him back to the diamond, they have plenty of back-up players who can play first base. Jim Thome, who is 41 years-old, is one of those guys.
Excerpt from Morosi's column.
Amaro is very satisfied with reports on Thome, as he prepares to play in the field on a limited basis. Thome, 41, has played just four games at first base since 2005 – and none since 2007. “Our medical people are surprised at the shape he’s in,” Amaro said. “They think he might be better now than he was when we first signed him in 2002.” Amaro said it’s conceivable that Thome could play first base as often as four or five times per month.
Although Thome won't play every day at first base, starting in a Phillies uniform four to five times a month is exactly what this team needs. Other options to fill first base until Howard returns lie with John Mayberry Jr. and newly-acquired Ty Wigginton - both who have had experience playing first base. Mayberry played 18 games last season, and Wigginton played over 8 seasons at first base.
Jim Thome has always been a fan favorite in Philly, and a solid performance while Ryan Howard is recovering will put that fan appreciation on a new level.
Erik Seybold is a writer for Buzz On Broad. You can follow him on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.