PITTSBURGH -- Jim Thome almost bounced out of the visitors' clubhouse late Sunday morning at PNC Park.
"How can you not be excited?" he said. "This is what it's all about."
Thome found himself in the starting lineup and playing first base in the series finale against the Pirates. It was the first time he started a game at first base since June 13, 2007, when he played for the Chicago White Sox. It was the first time he started a game at first base for the Phillies since June 30, 2005, when he was in a lineup that included Kenny Lofton, Endy Chavez, Tomas Perez, Todd Pratt and Jon Lieber.
It has been a while.
"I know," Thome chuckled.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he started Thome because he simply wanted to get the veteran some at-bats, and because Thome had faced Pirates right-hander James McDonald in Spring Training. But Thome went 0-for-3, although he turned a nice 3-6-3 double play in the fourth inning.
There has been some thought that Thome, who has a history of back problems, might be able to play first base more than once a week, but Manuel said Thome will not be in the starting lineup for Monday's home opener at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's too early to start playing him two days in a row," Manuel said. "I don't want to do that, really."