PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Jim Thome took the stage at the City Club of Cleveland on Oct. 25, and spoke in generalities about staying in the game.
On Friday, he got a little more specific.
Despite being picked up by the Indians in August, reuniting the record-setting designated hitter with a team and city that adored him, Thome agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
“I’ll keep playing,” Thome said last month. “I just need teams to call me. I can’t go play in the backyard by myself. I don’t know the demand for a 41-year-old DH, but my passion is I want to continue to play.”
The Phillies, yet another team he’s spent time with over his 21 seasons, granted him that wish for $1.25 million. He will take a physical on Saturday, and if all goes well, he will bring his 604 career home runs to Citizens Bank Park next spring.
Philadelphia, eliminated in the division series by the St. Louis Cardinals, can certainly use his power from the left side, though where — and if — he’ll play in the field, is a big question. Thome, a Phillie from 2003-05, has not played defensively since 2007, and might be a little rusty at first base, should he be called on to play there as Ryan Howard recovers from surgery on his left Achilles.
While certainly interested in remaining an Indian, Thome set the stage for an exit in the way he answered questions at the City Club two weeks ago.
“In a year or two, this team can do some very special things,” Thome said of the Indians, sounding like a player who had played his last game for them. “They have put the groundwork in, done things the right way.”
Thome will reunite with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. The two formed a bond from their days in Cleveland together, and almost did it sooner — as in four months ago — before the Indians sneaked in and acquired him from the Minnesota Twins with the Phillies lurking.
Thome is a lifetime .277 hitter with 1,674 RBIs.
The Phillies cruised to the National League East title this season, only to be bounced by St. Louis in five games.
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