CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Jim Thome found himself in an unfamiliar place Sunday — first base.
Thome played five innings at first and hit a two-run double for a Philadelphia Phillies’ split squad in a 3-3, 10-inning tie
against the Baltimore Orioles.
The 41-year-old, who has not played the field in the regular season since eight innings for the Chicago White Sox at the
Phillies on June 13, 2007, did not have any grounders hit to him.
He had three putouts.
“It felt fun to be out there. The adrenaline was pretty awesome,” a smiling Thome said. “I haven’t had adrenaline like
that in quite a while.”
Thome signed a $1.25 million, one-year deal to return to the Phillies. He hasn’t played regularly in the field since his first
tour in Philadelphia ended in 2005.
“He looked all right. Looked big and strong,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
With fellow All-Star Ryan Howard set to begin the season on the disabled list while recovering from left Achilles tendon surgery, the Phillies have been playing Thome at first base in minor league games. Sunday was his first time in the field during a major league exhibition.
“I think the main thing is my body has felt pretty good,” said Thome, who has battled chronic back pain. “That has been the big thing.”
Thome hit a two-run double to deep center in a three-run third against Brian Matusz.
Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay struck out nine and walked two in 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits while throwing 89 pitches. He is to have one more tuneup before the April 5 opener at Pittsburgh. It will be his 10th straight opening-day start, the most among active pitchers.
“I feel good,” he said. “You get close to 100 pitches, but you want to get up and down as many times as you can. That can be the hardest part once the season starts, sitting down and then going back out there for an inning. So getting to be able to go out there for a seventh inning and get close to 90 pitches, I felt like it was very productive.”
For the second time in five days, Halladay pitched opposite Baltimore left-hander Brian Matusz. In his third start against the Phillies this spring training, Matusz allowed three runs on six hits while striking out two and walking one in 4 2/3 innings.
“He survived well without what he has spoiled us with. Brian was OK,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He wasn’t as fluid as he was and will be. He made quality pitches when he had to.”
“I was rushing a little bit,” Matusz said. “Rushing my delivery, I wasn’t able to settle in with something that felt good.
Felt like I was battling all game. Just kept battling, kept attacking the zone.”
NOTES: Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley (knees) will not be ready for opening day. … Phillies LHP Antonio Bastardo struck out the only two batters he faced in the seventh. Bastardo hadn’t pitched since March 18 with muscle tightness in his arm. … Phillies 3B Placido Polanco went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game since March 17. Polanco sprained his left ring finger on a headfirst slide during a pickoff attempt last week. … Baltimore is only the third team since 1996 to have as many as five spring-training ties, according to STATS LLC, joining the 2006 Los Angeles Dodgers and 2010 Chicago White Sox. … Baltimore RHP Jason Berken pitched a scoreless sixth in his first appearance of spring
training. He had been sidelined with a left hamstring injury. … Showalter says he will start LHP Tsuyoshi Wada on Tuesday against MInnesota and pitch LHP Wei-Yin Chen in a minor league game that day.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)