Now that the Phillies are done with the designated hitter for this season (at least until the World Series), what do they do with Jim Thome?
Thome, whose back prevents him from playing any fielding position, served the Phillies well in nine games as a DH, but has never showed much promise as a pinch-hitter. (He's 0-for-11 this season, 0-for-his-last-14 dating back to last July, and hitting .214 in his career.)
So we have a plan ... well, at least half a plan.
The Phillies have 44 road games remaining, games in which they will bat before they play the field. Why not put Thome in the starting lineup in the No. 3 slot for those 44 games and then just have a player replace Thome in the field after he bats in the top of the first inning?
At least this way, Thome will know about when his at-bat will come each night — and against which pitcher — and can plan accordingly. No more worrying about when Charlie Manuel's going to tell him to get ready or eyeing the bullpen to see if the opposing team has a lefty up just to face him.
And maybe, just maybe, one of the first two hitters could get on base and set the table for Big Jim. Even if they don't, with 608 career home runs, Thome himself is always in scoring position.
Last time we checked, runs scored in the first inning (in which Thome is a career .274 hitter) counted every bit as much as runs scored in later innings.
And Manuel will still be able to pick his PH spots for Thome in home games, when the Phils have to play the field first.
The Phils aren't back on the road until next Friday in Miami, so maybe in the meantime Thome will turn into Ed Kranepool (who hit .447, 42-for-94, from 1974-77 as a PH).
But if he doesn't, maybe this is one way to go.