"Hopefully, it's just a two-week thing," said Manuel on Thome. "My feeling is that it actually could be longer. We'll do the treatment and see where he's at. I think that it's important that he gets well."
Thome, who was not available for comment, said Monday that the injury hasn't felt any better since Saturday, and likened it to the lower back soreness that cost him a week in Spring Training.
"If I can't play, I want to know what I need to do to play," Thome said Monday. "It's a little better, but still stiff. It probably would be wise to find out what's going on. I want to get better."
He'll have at least two weeks to recover. He had an MRI exam earlier Tuesday by team doctor Michael Ciccotti and spine specialist Dr. Alex Vaccaro. The test confirmed the lower back strain. Thome will remain in Philadelphia and have a CAT scan on Wednesday.
"When you have a guy with that much of a presence gone from your lineup, you're going to feel it," said Chase Utley. "At the same time, it gives some other guys a
chance to play."
Lofton will return to Philadelphia on Wednesday and rehab there, along with Thome.
Despite his hamstring woes that limited him through much of Spring Training, Lofton started out well, hitting .373 in 51 at-bats. But his injuries cropped up during games, forcing Manuel to go to the bench early.
First-baseman Ryan Howard was recalled from Triple-A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Thome, while Marlon Byrd will be activated from the disabled list to replace
Lofton. Byrd had started a rehab assignment on Wednesday.
Though Thome won't say it, Manuel feels that Thome's back may have contributed to his tough April, in which he hit .203 with one homer.
"A back situation is serious," Manuel said. "It could put him out for quite awhile. This is probably the worst pain that I've seen him in. We need him. We need a big year out of Jim Thome. Everybody in baseball knows that.
"Our big home run hitter is gone for a while, now we have to step up and find a way to be good. If we want to have excuses and lie down, that kind of tells you who we
are. I want us to go get them."