Jim Thome honing glove skills in return

Jim Thome has a reputation for being one of the most accessible, nicest guys in baseball. But it’s been difficult catching up with the future Hall of Famer lately.

“I’m just superbusy in the morning here,” Thome said. “And then there are the games in the afternoon. It’s been crazy this spring training.”

Gentleman Jim has been spending considerable time reacquainting himself with his old position, first base.

“I’m trying to get it together to play it,” Thome said. “I’m doing all that I can. I’ve been a DH for awhile, but I’m going to see if I can get out in the field. There’s some need.”

Actually there is a gaping hole at first since slugger Ryan Howard is recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and a lingering infection. It’s unknown how long it will take the Big Piece to return.

Charlie Manuel would love to see his favorite pupil add some pop to the lineup.

“I’m hoping Jim can play some first base for us,” Manuel said. “We’ll see if he can.”

Thome, 42, who has not played the field since 2007, isn’t sure how it will shake out with his balky back.

“We’ll just have to see,” Thome said. “I worked hard in the offseason doing Pilates. I think I’m more flexible. I would love to give it a shot.”

On Monday, Thome saw his first action in the field. He looked shaky on the first ball hit his way, but still made five putouts in four innings.

“It’ll find you,” Thome said. “The ball always finds you when you haven’t been out there in a while.”

Thome’s potential spot starts will help him stay sharp as a pinch-hitter.

“I think getting four or five at bats in some games would be good for me,” Thome said. “It’s beneficial for any hitter. The more I bat the better. I’m trying to get my bat up to speed.”

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