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Jim Thome is going to play more first base than expected

Jan 14, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Third baseman Jim Thome AP

Even I can’t distort this quote from Ruben Amaro into a full-blown Best Shape of His Life post, but it’s close — more of a “best shape of the decade” thing — and it is notable all the same.  From Jon Paul Morosi:

“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.

He’ll get his chance to show it as Ryan Howard heals from his achilles injury, though the first base at bats will also go to John Mayberry and Ty Wigginton.  Still, I hope Thome can play a decent amount of first base so that he’s more of a “Jason Giambi in Colorado” kind of player this year than he is a “Mike Sweeney in Philly” kind of player. More Thome in your life is always a good thing.

  1. largebill - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Hey, I love Thome (from Cleveland and named my son Jim), but I don’t see this going well. He hasn’t used a glove in years. Two or three years ago when the White Sox sent him to the Dodgers all he could do was pinch hit. People assume anyone can play 1B. Wrong. Sure, anyone can play it poorly, but in the majors you can not have a 1B turning should be outs into men on base due to errors regularly. Also, a guy with a long history of back issues isn’t someone you want bending oddly to scoop off target throws. Hope he proves me wrong.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      The Rangers don’t seem to have a problem playing Michael Young in the field and he turns outs into base runners wherever he plays. Furthermore, I think his range will be less of an issue than people think. Utley has remarkable range to his left and should help compensate for Thome and his lack of mobility.

      • bobulated - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:10 PM

        While Utley has held up well you’re asking a lot for a guy with knee problems to compensate for another player on D. 2B is not like CF where shading over a bit can help that much on defense and besides if Utley is always rotated over towards Thome, what does that do to Rollins? Jimmy is a great player but his range isn’t getting any better (he was actually a shade below avg on range factor last season) to expand his zone as well to cover up the middle.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:13 PM

        I’m not asking Utley to shade more to first. I am saying his natural range to his left is so spectacular it inherently compensates for the lack of range of the 1B. Seriously, he covers more ground to his left then any second baseman I’ve ever seen.

      • cur68 - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        Ever see Roberto Alomar in his prime? He covered so much ground you’da thought he was the infield tarp. Utley reminds me of that guy.

    • 78mu - Jan 14, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      Sure, anyone can play it poorly

      The most obvious example is named Adam Dunn. Though Dunn always could hit until they took his glove away from him. The WS would be better off if Dunn could hit and field the way he used to as opposed to what he gave them with his PAs last year.

  2. hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Okay when I read this headline, my first thought was “Oh god more than expected? Whats that like 10-15 times a month?!” then I actually read the article and “more than expected” is actually “Like 4 games a month”. I’m not worried one bit, even though Jim has a self diagnosed allergy towards leather

    • foreverchipper10 - Jan 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Yeah I assumed he would play the field maybe once a week. That would be about 4-5 times a month. I thought this was about to say the Phils planned on using him 2-3 times a week at first. If 4-5 times a month is more than expected did they expect him to play the field at all when they signed him?

  3. kiwicricket - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    “Our medical people are surprised at the shape he’s in”
    I really do love this quote.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      Round is a shape

      • kiwicricket - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        Give Jim credit. Oval? Oblong? Obelisk?

    • 78mu - Jan 14, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      Almost every player starts out the year healthy until they get hurt and they don’t usually have the injury record or age of Thome. It would be great to see him hit more than once a game because he really is fun to watch him take his cuts.

  4. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    I’m a huge Thome fan and was thrilled when he was signed the first time. I’m just as thrilled this time, but for completely different reasons. He’ll play some first base, and if that is too strenuous and he gets hurt, it’s really not that big of a deal. He’s a bench bat, you can’t be scared of having a bench guy get hurt. You can’t protect yourself from everything. You have to take some risks to reap rewards

    Of course, I hope he plays well and stays healthy the whole season. Both for the team and him.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Here’s hoping he finally gets that ring.

  5. gallaghedj311 - Jan 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Bc Ryan Howard’s gonna miss 3+ months…

    • hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Actually its looking like anywhere between 1-3 months. They might be quite bullish on this but there have been estimates that he might be able to play may 1st

    • mojosmagic - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      And you know that because you are Ryan Howard’s Dr or because your a jealous maggot?

      • hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        …Jealous maggot? Jealous that the Phillies signed Jim Thome? Yeeees exactly that. No, its just crap I’ve read from MLB trade rumors, saw on MLB network etc. Not insider info, just stuff that has been around. And maggot is such an offensive term mojo, couldn’t you at least call me a cockroach? Dung-beetle perhaps?

  6. bobulated - Jan 14, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I think Thome has been a great player and is probably a HOFer but I don’t see this working out any better for the Phils than the similar situation with Miggy Tejeda and the Giants last season.

  7. rooney24 - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I like Thome, but if his back wouldn’t hold up to DHing more than 3-4 days a week the last couple of years, how will he now be able to hold up in the field for 7-8 innings for even a game here and there? You know he won’t be playing 9 innings, even if he starts, as I would expect he would be pulled late for defense.

  8. xmatt0926x - Jan 14, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Usually we kind of mock the “best shape of his life” stuff, but in this case it doesn’t surprise me if Thome is indeed in the best shape of his life. It’s human nature. I think he’s aware that he will barely take the field but at the same time he would like to represent himself well for the few times he does. He’s probably using the challenge as his workout motivation this offseason. I don’t care how old he is or when the last time he played 1st base is. If you’ve watched baseball long enough you’ve seen some world class butchers be put at 1st base for small stretches. He will not be the worst we have seen by far.

    • hammyofdoom - Jan 14, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Well even if he is in the best shape ever, theres only so much a body can put up with. Just cause a player is jacked doesn’t mean there stuff going on, we’ll see and I hope him the best but still

  9. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 14, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    No one thought Lance Berkman would survive last year in right field. I think Jim Thome can manage to play the field one day a week

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