Thome happy with Phils, but would listen to AL interest
MIAMI – Jim Thome walked a fine line Friday.
He said he was a Phillie. He said he wants to be a Phillie. He said he was happy to be a Phillie.
But Thome also left little doubt that if the opportunity arose to return to the American League and be a designated hitter again, well …
“I would have to sit down and listen,” he said Friday.
Thome has been mentioned as a trade candidate since interleague play ended 12 days ago. He was the Phillies’ DH in nine straight interleague games and hit .333 (12 for 36) with four homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.137 OPS. With interleague play complete, Thome has been relegated to a pinch-hitter, a role in which he has struggled, save for one shining moment last Saturday when he came off the bench and hit a game-winning homer against Tampa Bay.
Thome’s totals as a pinch-hitter this season: 1 for 16 with 11 strikeouts. Thome has admitted that it’s difficult to produce without regular at-bats and those will not be coming because his chronically bad back prevents him from playing first base.
“I feel bad about that, to be honest,” said Thome, who played four games at first base in April and landed on the disabled list.
On Thursday, ESPN.com reported that the Phils were shopping Thome to American League clubs that might be looking for a DH. This was consistent with what Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said when interleague play ended. At that time, he said it would be a disservice to Thome to have him sit on the Phillies’ bench if there were an opportunity for him to contribute to an AL team.
“We're not looking to trade Thome,” manager Charlie Manuel said Friday. “Thome would definitely get the most playing time as a DH in the American League. I think everybody in baseball knows that. But we're not in a hurry to get rid of Thome.”
Manuel believes Thome can keep the hitter’s timing he gained as a DH for a few more weeks.
“He’s serviceable right now,” Manuel said. “A couple weeks from now, he might not be.”
This seems to indicate that the Phillies will continue to be open-minded to dealing Thome before the July 31 trade deadline. It’s unclear what the 41-year-old, 609-homer man would bring in return. He went down this road last year when he was dealt from Minnesota to Cleveland. The Twins’ take was just $20,000 in the cash deal.
Thome does not have a no-trade clause, but he is greatly respected by team elders and it’s likely they would allow him input in where he went if he were dealt.
“This time of year, late June through the end of July, names get thrown out there,” Thome said. “I’m a Philadelphia Phillie, and until I’m approached about that, that’s all I can say out of respect for the fans, out of respect to the city, for the organization. I came here to try to help this club win. With that, I’m also old enough in my career where I get the business side of it, too.”