Thome easing into action at first base

Thome easing into action at first base

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jim Thome continues to work himself into shape at first base, easing himself into the position.

The Phillies plan to have Thome play a few innings at first base a few times in Minor League games at Carpenter Complex before he plays in a Grapefruit League game. So expect Thome to be the Phillies' designated hitter early in the Grapefruit League schedule.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he would be happy to have Thome start 20 games at first base this season. He also could start eight Interleague road games as the team's designated hitter. If Thome can handle that workload, Manuel is confident he can get him 180-200 at-bats, which Manuel feels would keep Thome sharp at the plate.