Jim Thome has started at first base for the Phillies in three of the first 16 games, which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that he last played even an inning at the position in mid-2007.
He committed a throwing error yesterday, but health-wise the 41-year-old has held up pretty well after missing tons of time with minor injuries during the previous few seasons.
Getting just 18 total plate appearances through 16 games has made it tough for Thome to stay sharp and he’s just 2-for-16 with nine strikeouts, but considering how much the Phillies’ lineup has struggled to produce runs it’ll be interesting to see if manager Charlie Manuel tries to expand his role with some more time at first base.
In addition to Thome’s three starts there the Phillies have used Ty Wigginton six times, Laynce Nix four times, and John Mayberry three times, and that quartet has combined to hit just .263 with one homer and a .730 OPS. Of course, as mediocre as a .730 OPS is for first base it actually ranks as the best OPS the Phillies have gotten from any position in their lineup. Which is why they rank second-to-last with 2.7 runs per game.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.
Update (5:20 PM EST): It’s a minor league contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he makes the major league roster, Saltalamacchia will earn $1.25 million with an additional $250,000 available through incentives.
The Blue Jays are close to a deal with free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet is reporting.
Saltalamacchia, 31, hit a meager .171/.284/.346 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 292 plate appearances with the Tigers this past season. With Russell Martin getting regular playing time behind the plate, Saltalamacchia will serve as his understudy, pushing A.J. Jimenez and Juan Graterol down on the depth chart.
The veteran catcher isn’t far removed from being a productive backstop. He had an .805 OPS in 70 games with the Diamondbacks in 2015 and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 with an .804 OPS in 121 games.