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Jim Thome, Phillies agree to deal

Times staff and wire reportsPHILADELPHIA — Throughout the 2011 season it was clear the Phillies needed to find some pop for their bench, particularly from the left side of the plate.On the last out of 2011, it became clear they would need to find a short-term solution at first base, since Ryan Howard suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon.Four days into baseball’s free-agency period, the Phillies went to an old friend to fill those gaps.Jim Thome, whose signing eight years ago brought on a baseball renaissance in Philly that has led to filled seats at Citizens Bank Park and raised expectations that largely are met, has signed a one-year deal with the Phillies, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.Thome, 41, spoke at the City Club of Cleveland two weeks ago and was unspecific about staying in the game.“I’ll keep playing,” Thome said last month. “I just need teams to call me. I can’t go play in the backyard by myself. I don’t know the demand for a 41-year-old DH, but my passion is I want to continue to play.”Clearly he thinks he not only can provide a bat for a team, but that years of being almost exclusively a DH in the American League doesn’t mean his glove has been put away for good.The Phillies’ offer was for $1.25 million. Thome will take a physical today, and if all goes well he will bring his 604 career home runs to Clearwater, Fla., for spring training.Thome hit 89 home runs in 2003-04 with the Phillies before injuries cut short his 2005 and Howard’s emergence led them to trade him to the White Sox. He has not played defensively since 2007, but the Phillies are banking that he can give them at least some assistance at first while Howard recuperates.After hitting 25 homers in 276 at-bats for the Twins as a part-time DH in 2010, Thome returned last season as he pressed closer to 600 homers. After an injury set him back in the first half of the season, he reached the milestone Aug. 15 with a pair of homers at Detroit. Ten days later he was traded to the Indians, the franchise that drafted him and for whom the greatest seasons of his Hall of Fame career occurred. Although the Phillies were interested in Thome, the Twins weren’t interested in dealing him until he reached the 600-homer mark. By then the non-waiver deadline passed, and Thome wasn’t about to get by 28 other teams to the Phils.Thome finished 2011 with a .245 average, 15 homers, 50 RBIs and an .838 OPS in 324 plate appearances. Return to Paging Mode

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