By Matt Snyder
Jim Thome spent three seasons in Philadelphia and now he's headed back for one more. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com is reporting that Thome has agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies. Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports the deal is worth $1.25 million. Both reporters noted the signing is still pending a physical.
One would expect Thome's role to simply be a left-handed power bat off the bench, as he hasn't played more than a three games in the field in a season since 2005. Since then, he's been a designated hitter or pinch hitter.
The interesting thing here is that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is recovering from surgery that repaired his torn Achilles tendon shortly after the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS (Howard suffered the injury on the final out). Reports have indicated Howard could make it back by opening day but he's going to have to avoid any setbacks and that the timetable still seems pretty aggressive. So perhaps the Phillies try to use Thome at first in the early weeks of the season? It all depends on how much they want his bat in the lineup in comparison with how much defense they're willing to sacrifice.
Thome, 41, became just the eighth man in baseball history to slug at least 600 career home runs when he hit No. 600 this past season as a member of the Twins. He was then traded to the Indians -- where he began his career -- in late August. Thome was with the Phillies from 2003-05, but he was only the starter for the first two years. By the third year, Howard had taken over as the starter at first base.
The 2012 season will be the 22nd of Thome's illustrious career.