Jim Thome is going to play more first base than expected

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Even I can’t distort this quote from Ruben Amaro into a full-blown Best Shape of His Life post, but it’s close — more of a “best shape of the decade” thing — and it is notable all the same.  From Jon Paul Morosi:

“Our medical people are surprised at the shape he’s in,” Amaro said. “They think he might be better now than he was when we first signed him in 2002.” Amaro said it’s conceivable that Thome could play first base as often as four or five times per month.

He’ll get his chance to show it as Ryan Howard heals from his achilles injury, though the first base at bats will also go to John Mayberry and Ty Wigginton.  Still, I hope Thome can play a decent amount of first base so that he’s more of a “Jason Giambi in Colorado” kind of player this year than he is a “Mike Sweeney in Philly” kind of player. More Thome in your life is always a good thing.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.