Jim Thome and his mitt are ready to field stuff as Ryan Howard looks on. (AP)Baseball is back! Here at Big League Stew, we'll take a quick dash around the league each morning in an attempt to keep you updated on all the springtime story lines.
• The Philadelphia Phillies have warned us all spring it would happen. On Monday, we'll see the plan in action. Jim Thome, at 41 years old, who has played in the field a grand total of eight innings and one batter since 2006, will play four or five innings at first base in a minor-league Grapefruit League game. Reporter Ryan Lawrence of the Delaware County Times writes that Thome will work his way up to major-league exhibitions later this month.
Thome's chronic back problems, along with being in the American League where they use a designated hitter, have limited his opportunities on defense. But Thome is game to help the Phils at first while slugger Ryan Howard continues to recover from his Achilles' tendon surgery.
"We've been doing our work. That's no worries there, just have to continue to try to make improvement. Any time you haven't done something in 6 or 7 years, you know there are going to be those steps you have to take to get where you wan[t] to get. We've been trying to do that, and its been great."
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• It doesn't sound so bad once you read the details — that David Wright is heading back to New York to get a cortisone shot in his ribcage. But when you think "Mets" and "injury" and "medical staff" and "getting on an airplane," it does give you pause.
• The broken left ankle of Kendrys Morales of the Los Angeles Angels might finally be healed enough for him to play in spring training games this week. That was the nastiest injury, in terms of prolonged recovery, in recent memory. Knock on wood. He broke that thing in in May 2010.
• The St. Louis Cardinals continue to be concerned about the bulging neck disc suffered by right-hander Chris Carpenter, so they'll prepare "Plan B" — which, reporter Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to have Lance Lynn move into the starting rotation. It's like Kyle McClellan replacing Adam Wainwright all over again! Well, not quite, manager Mike Matheny says:
The ace [...] felt better when talking with trainers on Sunday afternoon. Carpenter has not been cleared to return throwing.
Matheny outlined how Carpenter must first be cleared to pick up a baseball and then he must be comfortable enough to pitch before the team can truly ascertain his availability.
If Carpenter is ready for his scheduled start on opening day against Miami, then Lynn will slide back into the bullpen.
They're just planning ahead is all.
• The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Athletics might have two parties interested in buying the team and keeping it in Oakland. One of the bidders just got cut from the Los Angeles Dodgers' ownership contest.