MIAMI -- Could Jim Thome be on his way out of Philadelphia?
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said 10 days ago he had been taking calls about Thome's availability following a stellar performance during a nine-game Interleague road trip, when Thome had four home runs and 14 RBIs as the team's designated hitter. Amaro said then it "is a little bit of a disservice to have him sit there as a pinch-hitter when he can't do much more than that. But we'll see what happens."
It was a pretty strong hint the Phillies are more than willing to trade Thome. ESPN.com reported this week the Phils are actively shopping him.
Thome sounded torn Friday when asked about his future in Philadelphia.
"The bottom line is I'm a Phillie," the veteran slugger said at Marlins Park. "I'm a Phillie, I'm in Philly, and I want to be here. ... Unfortunately I thought I was going to play a little bit more. I understand that. But my back hasn't let that happen. That's for me, I kind of feel bad about that, to be honest."
Thome started four games at first base in April before landing on the disabled list with an injured back. He said he can't give first base another shot. It's just too risky. And because it is too risky, it will be tough for him to stay productive offensively pinch-hitting a few times per week.
Thome said he talks to Amaro and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel every day, so it stands to reason they have talked about trade possibilities. Asked what would happen if the Phillies came to him with a trade proposal, Thome said, "If they did that, I think I would have to sit down and listen. But it's hard for me to answer that. It's hard for me to answer that out of respect of the fans, the organization -- they've treated me so well here. I would never want to disrespect them.
"But there is a side of me that does have a lot of passion to play. I like to play. Unfortunately, physically, it bothers me to say it, but physically it is what it is -- it's hard for me to play first base."
And that could create a numbers problem when Ryan Howard and Laynce Nix return from the DL. In that regard, if the Phillies could get something of use in return for Thome -- the Twins got just $20,000 for him from the Indians last season -- it might make sense to trade him.
"Thome would definitely get the most playing as a DH in the American League," Manuel said. "I think everybody in baseball knows that. But we're not in a hurry to get rid of Thome."