The Phillies have decided to begin the 2012 season roster update with a blast from the past. Jim Thome, who played for the Phillies from 2003-2005, has signed a one-year deal to return to the Phils in 2012. Stating publically on a number of occasions that Charlie Manuel is like a father to him, it is no surprise that Thome wanted to come back for what may be his final year in baseball.
A future hall of famer with 604 career home runs, Thome was already a fan favorite in Philly. But at age 41, can he contribute to an already aging line-up? After spending the last 5 years in the American League, Thome saw little playing time in the field and was mostly a designated hitter.
It is possible the Phillies think he can fill in at first base occasionally as Ryan Howard may not be ready for the start of the season. But it is more likely he will be a bench player, cheerleader and veteran mentor for younger players.
Although in an odd twist of fate, it would be ironic to see Thome take over first base for Howard (if only temporarily) as Howard is the reason Thome was traded away from the Phillies after the 2005 season. Howard was an emerging rookie at the time and the Phillies had no use for Thome once Howard was ready to go full time.
Here is a quick trip down memory lane with a few photos I shot of Thome in the 2004 season:
Thome is an all around great guy and it will be wonderful to see him back in a Phillies uniform. Perhaps the Phils can begin grooming him for a coaching position? Just a thought.
An even better thought is that Thome could finally get that World Series ring he is lacking. But as the 2011 season showed us, anything can happen.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography