Saturday, November 05, 2011

Phillies officially bring back Thome

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Magazine

The Philadelphia Phillies officially brought back one of the franchise's most popular players on Saturday, agreeing to a one-year contract with first baseman Jim Thome.

"We're very happy to be able to bring Jim back to Philadelphia at this point in his career," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. "He will be an option for [manager Charlie Manuel] to use off the bench each night and brings a great attitude to the ballpark every day."

Thome signed as a free agent with the Phillies prior to the 2003 season and spent three years with the team before being dealt to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Aaron Rowand.

The big left-handed hitter had his most productive season in red pinstripes in 2003, finishing with 47 home runs and 131 RBI.

Manuel has a close bond with Thome from their days in the Cleveland Indians organization, when Thome was an up-and-coming player and Manuel was the team's hitting coach.

"Everyone knows my relationship with Jimmy," Manuel said. "But he's not here because of that. He's here to contribute to our team in a positive way, both on and off the field."

Thome began last season with the Minnesota Twins and was shipped to the Indians at the trade deadline. In 93 games between the clubs, Thome hit 15 home runs and drove in 50.

The native of Peoria, Illinois also became the eighth player in major league history to hit 600 home runs when he cracked Nos. 599 and 600 on August 15 against the Detroit Tigers. He currently has 604 homers to his credit, and ranks third among active players with 17 postseason longballs.

In 2,485 games over 21 major-league seasons, Thome is a .277 hitter with 1,674 RBI in with Cleveland (1991-2002; 2011), Philadelphia, the ChiSox (2006-09), Los Angeles Dodgers (2009) and Twins (2010-11). In 144 career games as a pinch-hitter, Thome has hit .233 (28-for-120) with four home runs and 14 RBI, including .231 this past season.

Thome memorably reached the 400-homer plateau during a game in Philadelphia against the Cincinnati Reds in June of 2004.

The 41-year-old could be a solid short-term replacement at first base for Philadelphia -- along with the younger John Mayberry, Jr. -- while Ryan Howard recovers from a torn Achilles he suffered on the final play of Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Otherwise, Thome could provide power off the bench in certain situations.

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