Jim Thome has been doing some traveling in recent days. He attended former teammate Joe Mauer’s wedding in Minneapolis over the weekend, and he was in Cleveland this week to get measured for the statue the Indians are creating in his honor at Progressive Field.
But Thome, a free agent, hasn’t been visiting any Major League clubs on formal business. The 42-year-old member of the 600-homer club is still undecided on whether to come back for a 23rd season, and it is not known what kind of market would develop for his services were he to decide to come back.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he spoke with Thome on the phone earlier this week and that Thome had not yet made up his mind on coming back.
“I think if somebody shows interest in him, he might [return],” Manuel said. “You know, I think he’s one of those guys who is having a hard time trying to leave.”
Manuel’s Phillies coaxed Thome out of a potential retirement a year ago with a one-year, $1.25 million contract. But when Thome’s bid to play first base with regularity for the first time since 2005 did not go as planned, he was shipped back to the American League when the Orioles acquired him for Minor Leaguers Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon in June. A herniated disk in his neck limited Thome to just 28 games with the O’s. For the season, he hit .252 with eight homers, seven doubles and 25 RBIs in 58 games.
Orioles general manager Dan Duquette told reporters earlier this week that he has not had contact with Thome but that Thome “added a real veteran presence” to the club.
Free agent Grady Sizemore has attracted interest from several clubs hoping the three-time All-Star might yet have a comeback in him. But Sizemore is not going to be an option at the outset of 2013.
Sizemore had microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, his agent, Joe Urbon, confirmed. Because of the timetable of the recovery from that procedure, Sizemore — whose entire career, to date, has been spent with the Indians — might not be ready to take the field in a big-league game until midseason, at the earliest.
If the words “Sizemore” and “microfracture” look familiar together, that’s because Sizemore had the surgery performed on his left knee in June 2010. That surgery was a success, as Sizemore returned to the Indians in mid-April and made an instant impact. But he injured the other knee while sliding into a base in May and appeared in just 71 games that season. He didn’t take the field at all after signing a one-year, $5 million contract with the Tribe for 2012.
Urbon said this microfracture surgery was “a lot less invasive” than the first, but Sizemore understands the bid to return to the field is going to be a long process.
“He has a good mindset,” Urbon said. “He knows what to expect and what each step brings.”
The hope for the Indians and for Sizemore a year ago was that microfracture surgery on the right knee could be avoided. Sizemore had an arthroscopic procedure performed on the knee near the end of the 2011 season, but the knee was a continual source of pain and frustration throughout 2012.
Urbon said Sizemore probably pushed himself too hard to make a return to the Indians in ’12 and suffered a setback. Sizemore, 30, has now played in just 210 games over the last four years. But his past successes, including a 33-homer, 39-double, 38-stolen base season in 2008, make him an intriguing talent, if only he could stay on the field.
It is clear, though, that taking the field in 2013 will be yet another challenge for Sizemore.
“He has every intention of coming back when he’s 100 percent,” Urbon said, “and not a day sooner.”
With the Marlins aggressively in pursuit of Jose Reyes — a FoxSports.com report had their initial offer at six years, $90 million — the obvious question is what would happen to Hanley Ramirez if Reyes comes aboard.
The most likely option, obviously, would be to move Reyes to third base, though there has been some speculation that Ramirez wouldn’t be all that receptive to the idea.
“I’m the shortstop,” he told the Miami Herald. “I’ve always been a shortstop.”
Would the Marlins consider moving Ramirez not to another position but another team? That seems doubtful.
“Hanley is a very important part of this thing,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters at the General Managers Meetings on Tuesday. “He is a unique talent. It’s hard to find. What happened last year is last year. He had a slow start and got injured. For us to be successful, he needs to be Hanley.”