Jim Thome’s name hasn’t come up much this offseason, which is somewhat surprising for a guy who hit .249/.386/.481 with 23 homers in 434 plate appearances last year and yet not all that surprising given that he hasn’t played first base regularly since 2005.
Thome still crushes right-handed pitching, but as a 39-year-old designated hitter who’s borderline useless against left-handed pitching and offers only an emergency option at first base his potential suitors are very limited. Thome seems to have realized this three months into the offseason and made it clear yesterday that he’s basically just hoping the White Sox give him a call after dealing him to the Dodgers for the stretch run:
My door is open. All you’ve got to do is call me. We’ll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I’ve learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on. I want to play baseball. Right now, we’re talking to a few teams, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been a slow winter in the market, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and move forward.
While certainly not the MVP-caliber offensive monster he once was, Thome remains very dangerous when spotted versus righties. Against them he batted .262/.383/.498 in 2009 and .274/.402/.552 with an average of 39 homers per 500 from 2007-2009. There are plenty of teams for whom that production would be a huge upgrade, including the White Sox, but manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he wants to keep the DH spot open for a rotation of Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, and Mark Kotsay.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.