Results tagged ‘ Jim Thome ’

Manuel Talks Coffee, Managing and Thome

Charlie Manuel, Jime ThomeCharlie Manuel ordered a medium black coffee at Starbucks inside the team hotel today when the barista asked for his name for the order.

“It’s Charlie!” a few strangers behind him shouted.

“That kind of felt good,” Manuel said with a chuckle.

Manuel, 69, remains a well-known figure in Cleveland. He managed the Indians from 2000-02, and served as their hitting coach in 1988-89 and 1994-99. He recalled his best times with the Indians before tonight’s game at Progressive Field, including trips to the World Series in 1995 and 1997. But he also talked about other things, like his desire to keep managing and how former Indians and Phillies slugger Jim Thome is doing.

Manuel’s contract with the Phillies expires after the season.

“I want to manage as long as I can,” he said. “I’ve never told nobody I was going to retire. We’ll see. … I’m not worried about nothing. I want to keep managing.”

(Manuel saying he wants to continue managing beyond this season is nothing new. He has been saying this since the Winter Meetings. But it seems every time a writer asks him and he says it, it gets turned into a headline, so I thought I’d include it here.)

Thome is hoping to continue his career, but so far he has not found a job. He called Manuel a couple weeks ago and asked if he could swing by the clubhouse in the future.

“You can come and live with me,” Manuel said he responded. “I hope he does. … He still thinks he can play. He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He’s kind of having a hard time adjusting.”

Asche, Joseph and Others Headed to Spring Training

The Phillies announced today they have added six more players as Non-Roster Invitees for Spring Training.

This list includes several of the organization’s top prospects:

  • Third baseman Cody Asche. He hit .324 with 33 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs and 72 RBIs between Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading last season. Asche, 22, will be in camp to get big-league experience. If he continues to progress in 2013, the Phillies could look at him as their everyday third baseman as early as 2014.
  • Right-hander Justin Friend. He allowed just one earned run in 39 2/3 innings and converted each of his 24 save opportunities with Double-A Reading last season. Friend, 26, will get a look in Spring Training, but the Phillies have plenty of relievers ahead of him on the depth chart. Expect him to open the season in the Minor Leagues.
  • Catcher Tommy Joseph. The Phillies acquired him in the Hunter Pence trade and he immediately became the organization’s top position player prospect. He will be in camp to get big-league experience, but will open the season in the Minor Leagues. Where he opens remains to be seen. Joseph, 21, is expected to compete with Sebastian Valle for the Triple-A job.
  • Outfielder Joe Mather. He hit .209 with 11 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBIs in 103 games last season with the Chicago Cubs. The Phillies have plenty of outfielders, so Mather, 30, joins the organization to provide depth at Triple-A.
  • Left-hander Adam Morgan. The Phillies are high on Morgan, so like others in this group they want him to get his feet wet in big-league camp. He had a 3.29 ERA last season with Clearwater, and went 4-1 with a 3.53 ERA in six starts with Reading. Morgan, 22, led Phillies Minor Leaguers with 169 strikeouts in 158 2/3 innings.
  • Right-hander Kyle Simon. The Phillies acquired him in the Jim Thome trade. The Phillies made him a reliever last season with Clearwater and Reading with positive results: He went 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 20 appearances.

Amaro Talks Thome Trade

Phillies news release:

The Phillies have traded first baseman/designated hitter Jim Thome to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon, Senior Vice President & General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced today.

Here are Amaro’s words from a conference call with the five Phillies beat writers in Miami:

Q: How quick did this come together?
A; We talked to some clubs over the last couple of weeks about Jim. We were trying to do two things, really. We were trying to be attentive to Jim’s situation and at the same time, trying to take care of the Phillies. First and foremost, that’s my job, to put us in the position to do the right thing for the organization. At the same time, the player that we’re talking about and the great deal of respect we have for Jim, I wanted to try to put him in a position where he can flourish.

Q: Some might think this was the first of moves to come?
A: To be frank, when it was very evident he wasn’t able to play first base for us, it was difficult to carry this type of a player on our club. We tried to do it with Ross Gload last year. He played limited first base. It ties our hands. That said, Jim was going to be and has been a guy, that was a threat for us. We were hopeful we would have him play enough on our club to stay sharp. It didn’t work out. Health-wise, he wasn’t able to play that position. In the National League, it’s very, very difficult to carry player who is unable to play the position.

Q: Do you trade Thome if you’re 10 games over .500 or a game or two out of first place?
A: It really depends. Time and circumstance dictates some of the moves you make. I’m not sure. I probably would. But again, we’re not in that position right now.

Q: Does this send a message to the players in the clubhouse?
A: This wasn’t a trade that had anything to do with a message. This is a trade that is beneficial for us later on and hopefully beneficial for Jim. If people think this is the start of us selling players off, that’s incorrect. We are in a tough spot because we have not played well and are behind. But we’re not throwing in any towels.

Q: That said, you have to pick it up soon, right?
A: It does. We also have to see what kind of impact and where we stand once both Doc and Ryan get back. They have a chance to get back in the not-so-distant future. They would be pretty big factors as far as our club is considered.

Q: What can you tell us about the players you got?
A: Lino, a kid from Venezuela, we had our scouts, Jessie Levis in particular, see him. Very young kid. Excellent catch and throw guy. He has some aptitude offensively. He can swing the bat a little bit. He actually beat up on us at Lakewood. He’s a kid Jesse sees as a high-ceiling catcher. Very, very young. He has a chance to be pretty good. He’ll probably be sent to Lakewood. We’ll move forward from there. Kyle Simon, we had Howie Freiling see him just recently. Howie liked what he saw. Pretty good sinker, pretty good stuff. Kid from University of Arizona. Last year, fourth rounder. It’s rare you get a guy that was just drafted but we like the arm. Right now he’s a starter and might project into a bullpen piece later on. But we like the arm and we’ll put him in Clearwater and see how he goes.

Enjoy the Show

I wish I had saved the best tweets and e-mails from the folks who just knew Jim Thome couldn’t play anymore.

I mean, they told me with absolute certainty Thome couldn’t hit a baseball.

I’m not saying I knew Thome would produce like he has this past week (I certainly didn’t), but I knew Thome needed a shot to play every day before I could draw any conclusions. Thome is hitting .476 (10-for-21) with two doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs, two walks, four runs scored and a 1.399 OPS in five games as the team’s designated hitter. He will have another four games to be the team’s DH before the Phillies get back into their National League schedule.

So what happens after that?

Well, we can guess it will be a struggle. He went 2-for-20 with 11 strikeouts before he went on the DL. But maybe these nine games will keep him sharp for a while. Or maybe he figures out how to make the adjustment to a full-time pinch-hitting role.

Nobody knows.

So this time, just let it play out. (And avoid those absolute declarations.)

“I think we’re focusing on the right now,” Thome said. “I think sooner or later I’ll sit down with Charlie and see where we’re at. I think I’ve been pretty honest and open with that. We’ll see.”

In the meantime, enjoy the bomb he hit over the batter’s eye last night. I watched BP for a few minutes behind that batter’s eye Tuesday. Unbelievable anybody can hit a baseball that far.

Utley, Howard, Halladay and More

Ruben Amaro Jr. took a seat in the Phillies dugout before tonight’s game against the Dodgers to offer updates on the nine players on the disabled list.

That’s nine, folks.

Here we go:

Chase Utley (chondromalacia left knee). He did not play in an extended Spring Training game Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., but he will play Wednesday as a designated hitter. There are no extended Spring Training games again until June 12, so in the meantime Utley will participate in simulated games and continue his regular workouts. Amaro said it is unlikely Utley begins an official rehab assignment until he plays in that second round of extended Spring Training games June 12-14. “Generally, Chase, when he’s ready to go he’ll let us know,” Amaro said. “Just like he did on Sunday.” Amaro would not say if Utley could be back before the All-Star break, but if Utley begins a rehab assignment June 15 he would have 20 days to get himself ready to rejoin the team. That would put him at July 5.

Ryan Howard (left Achilles surgery). He will hit in Wednesday’s extended Spring Training game, but he will not run or play in the field. Amaro said Howard has been jogging and doing some light sprinting, but said, “His calf just isn’t strong enough to really do full-out sprint work. I don’t know what the percentage is, 50 percent, 40 percent 60 percent, I really don’t know.”

Roy Halladay (strained right latissimus dorsi). Everybody has been awaiting the second opinion from Mets physician David Altchek, but Amaro said, “There’s not going to really be much difference in the prognosis.” The Phillies sent Altcheck results from previous MRIs on Friday and they just arrived in New York on Tuesday morning. Amaro said Halladay has started some shoulder exercises and other upper body work. “He’s doing pretty well,” Amaro said. “This morning’s report was he was symptom free and doing some of the exercises, so that’s a good sign.” Halladay could begin throwing again at the three week mark.

Jim Thome (lower back strain). He could rejoin the team in time for this weekend’s interleague series in Baltimore. It sounds like Thome will only DH and pinch-hit upon his return to the big leagues, which could be an issue. But playing in the field certainly seems out of the question. Can Thome be effective as a full-time pinch-hitter after these nine interleague road games? “I don’t know,” Amaro said. “That’s a good question. We’ll find out.”

Laynce Nix (strained left calf). He will head to Clearwater following Thursday’s game to pick up his rehab. “He’s been progressing pretty good, too,” Amaro said.

Mike Stutes (right shoulder inflammation) and David Herndon (right elbow inflammation). Amaro said they are progressing slowly.

Justin De Fratus (strained right elbow). He is throwing from 75 feet. “Hopefully we can get him going in the next couple weeks,” Amaro said.

Jose Contreras (strained right elbow). No surgery has been scheduled yet.

Turning Thome Loose

Jim Thome stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning Tuesday to face Diamondbacks left-hander Mike Zagurski.

He took two sliders for strikes and one for a ball before he struck out swinging on a fastball.

Too many of Thome’s at-bats have looked like that through 19 games. The Phillies signed him in November to be a late-inning threat, but so far he is 2-for-17 with two walks and 10 strikeouts overall and 0-for-8 with six strikeouts as a pinch-hitter. That is a small sample size, much like Freddy Galvis‘ 0-for-12 start was a small sample size (although there were folks who absolutely knew Galvis could not play in the big leagues based on those 12 at-bats.) But there is no question Thome doesn’t look good at the plate. Charlie Manuel was asked Wednesday morning if he needs to play him more to try to get him sharp. Manuel said in spring training he thought Thome could play more than once a week at first base while Ryan Howard is injured, but so far Thome has started just three times.

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Going the Wrong Way

Good morning from Arizona.

A few thoughts/facts on one of baseball’s worst offenses through 16 games:

  • The Phillies have a .283 on-base percentage, .317 slugging percentage and 2.69 runs per game average. No team (in either league) has finished a season with a lower OBP since the 1968 Mets (.281), a lower SLG since the 1972 Rangers (.290) or a lower runs per game average since the 1942 Phillies (2.61). So unless you think the 2012 Phillies are one of the worst offenses in baseball history, they will improve. But how much? And will it happen in enough time to make a difference?
  • The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 10 games, and in 5 of their last 6.
  • We could see Chase Utley at the ballpark today, while Ryan Howard is scheduled to see a wound specialist in Philadelphia. Is there any shot the Phillies get good news from both?
  • I’m an Utley skeptic at this point because he proved to be no better than an average big-league hitter last season. It’s just difficult to believe he will return to All-Star form when he is still battling the same knee problems. (His .769 OPS last year would have ranked 77th out of 146 hitters had he qualified for the statistic.) But here’s something interesting: From April 1 through May 22 last season without Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 3.83 runs per game with a .312 OBP and .364 SLG. From May 23 through July 29 with Utley in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.71 runs per game with a .329 OBP and .407 SLG. And from July 30 through the end of the regular season with Utley and Hunter Pence in the lineup, the Phillies averaged 4.54 runs per game with a .324 OBP and a .406 SLG. It is possible even an average Utley can make that much of a difference in the lineup’s performance? It’s something worth thinking about.
  • Jim Thome has 2 hits and 9 strikeouts in 16 at-bats. I’ve had fans ask me if they think he is finished. But I’ve got a crazy idea: Play Thome more. If Charlie Manuel believes Thome needs more at-bats, which he said yesterday, then give them to him. What does Manuel have to lose? There had been talk in spring training that Thome might be able to play as many as two games in the field every week. Maybe even three. What happened to that? Thome has started just three times this season. If Thome plays more and his back flares up, it’s not like his absence is going to kill the offense, as little as he has played and as little as he has contributed as a pinch-hitter. (He’s 0-for-7 with 5 strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.) And as much as Thome has struck out, he also has given the Phillies some of their most “professional” at-bats. He is averaging 4.50 pitches per plate appearance. The next closest Phillies players with 16 or more at-bats are Juan Pierre (4.02) and Placido Polanco (3.94). So turn Thome loose. Let’s see how much he has left in the tank. If he produces, great. If he can’t handle the job physically or he continues to struggle, well, then you know.
  • Oh, and when Thome starts hit him fourth and Pence third. Maybe Pence would be more comfortable hitting somewhere other than cleanup. He has never hit more than 25 homers or had more than 97 RBIs in a season. Cleanup isn’t his spot, at least when Thome is playing.
  • I’ve gotten lots of e-mails and tweets about Domonic Brown, but he is hitting just .263 (15-for-57) with four doubles, one triple and eight RBIs in 15 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He has a .311 on-base percentage and a .368 slugging percentage. As much as John Mayberry Jr. has struggled, I can’t see the Phillies considering Brown as the solution in left field with a .680 OPS in Triple-A.

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

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • April 29: Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.
  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Wasted

Cliff Lee’s teammates expressed their frustrations and condolences tonight at AT&T Park.

He deserved better a fate.

He pitched 10 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss to the Giants in 11 innings. Lee became the first pitcher to pitch 10 innings in a game since Aaron Harang and Roy Halladay in 2007, the first pitcher to pitch 10 scoreless innings since Mark Mulder in 2005 and the first Phillies pitcher to pitch 10 innings since Terry Mulholland in 1993.

But Lee also became the first pitcher to pitch 10 scoreless innings in a losing effort since Brett Saberhagen’s Mets lost to San Diego in 1994.

“He battled,” Jim Thome said about Lee. “He battled.”

Thome sighed deeply before finishing his thought.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t help him out,” he said.

A few things on the night:

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Thome, Pierre Get the Start

Charlie Manuel hinted yesterday Jim Thome would play today in the series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park.

Here’s today’s lineup:

  1. Juan Pierre, LF
  2. Shane Victorino, CF
  3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
  4. Hunter Pence, RF
  5. Jim Thome, 1B
  6. Ty Wigginton, 3B
  7. Freddy Galvis, 2B
  8. Brian Schneider, C
  9. Vance Worley, P

Manuel is looking for a little offense. Just a little. Because the Phillies have scored just two runs in 19 innings this season, and just three in 36 innings dating to the second inning in Game 4 of the NLDS.

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

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Signing Copies of The Rotation Monday in Clearwater!

Just a heads up: Jim Salisbury and I will be signing copies of The Rotation from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at Bright House Field in Clearwater.

Check out what some people have said about the book: Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here.

Hope to see you there!

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It wasn’t terrible news for Placido Polanco, but his sprained left ring finger shows just how shaky the Phillies’ infield situation is.

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Jose Contreras pitched in his first Grapefruit League game today, Jim Thome played his second consecutive game at first base and more HERE

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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.
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