Big Jim, Big Truck and Bradenton

We’ve got another beautiful day in Clearwater …

The Phillies are headed south for a 1 p.m. game against the Pirates, but the big news today is at Carpenter Complex, where Jim Thome is going to play four or five innings at first base in a Minor League game, and Jose Contreras is going to pitch an inning. The Phillies are hoping Thome, who has not played more than an inning at first base since 2007, can play there 20 games this season. I think anything more than that would be a bonus, considering he is 41 and has a history of back problems.

Thome’s ability to play first base is huge. Charlie Manuel has said he wants Thome to get around 200 at-bats this season, but that is going to be difficult. Take a look at the most pinch-hit at-bats in a season in the big leagues since 1974 (thanks to David Hale for putting together this fancy chart):

Player Year PH at-bats
L. Harris 2001 83
R. Staub 1983 81
O. Palmeiro 2006 80
M. Franco 2003 78
J. Morales 1976 78
Ma. Sweeney 2008 78
J. Cruz 2005 76
Ma. Sweeney 2007 76
Gload 2011 74
5 tied N/A 72

So if Thome can match Gload he has 74 at-bats right there. Manuel said Thome can DH in nine road interleague games. Say that’s 35 at-bats. Thome now has 109 at-bats. He’s 91 at-bats short of Manuel’s goal. The only way to get close to 200 is his s ability to play first. Twenty games could give him roughly 80 more at-bats. So that’s why today is an important first step for the big man.

Today’s lineup in Bradenton:

  1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  2. Juan Pierre, LF
  3. Shane Victorino, DH
  4. Laynce Nix, 1B
  5. Carlos Ruiz, C
  6. Scott Podsednik, RF
  7. Tyson Gillies, CF
  8. Pete Orr, 3B
  9. Michael Martinez, 2B

Vance Worley is on the mound.


Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • March 19: Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.


Big Jim Thome is a nice story, but I really wonder whether he can offer the Phillies more than, say, Scott Posednik at this stage of his career. The only time I see a benefit is as a DH in AL ballparks against RH pitching. Pretty limited, IMO.

By all means give Thome 200 ABs at long as he is productive. Just don’t give him the 200 ABs because he is Jim Thome.

Martinez has been making a lot of errors and today he got dinged and will be out for a couple of games. Meanwhile, Galvis has been handling the bat very well and playing multiple positions flawlessly. I know, at his age, they want him playing everyday in AAA, but I don’t think they are going to have a choice. The backup infielder is going to get a lot of playing time, and I’d be a lot more comfortable with Galvis.
Starting pitchers kicking butt. Still the team to beat.

I hope Contreras can “keep on TRUCKIN'”!!!

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