When Jim Thome and Michael Martinez Return, Whose Roster Spots Will They Take?

Jim Thome and Michael Martinez each started a minor league rehab assignment in Clearwater within the last week. When they return, whose roster spots will they take?

Thome has struggled immensely in his return to Philly, and if he had no ties to the team or Charlie Manuel, there’s a good chance the Philadelphia Phillies would designate him for assignment. Thome is hitting .111 this season with 10 strikeouts in 18 at-bats, and he provides very little in terms of a defensive player. Thome has had a tremendous major league career that includes over 600 home runs, and he will probably one day wind up in the Hall of Fame, but he hasn’t offered much to the Phillies so far in 2012.

Martinez spent all of 2011 on the 25-man roster as a utility infielder, and he batted just .196 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 234 plate appearances. Martinez is helped by the fact that he’s fast and he is versatile defense: Martinez can play second base, shortstop, third base, left field, and center field.

If Thome retired right now, I’m sure it would save Manuel a difficult decision, but Manuel is extremely loyal and I don’t think he will tell Thome that there isn’t room for him on the roster. Hector Luna is tearing it up since the Phillies called him up, as he’s batting .333/.379/.519 in 29 plate appearances. So is Mike Fontenot, who is hitting .409/.480/.455. It’s highly unlikely either of the two continues their impressive streak, but it doesn’t make sense to demote them while they’re playing so well.

John Mayberry, Jr. and Brian Schneider are staying because they are the primary backups in the outfield/first base and at catcher. Laynce Nix is already on the DL, meaning the only guy on the team who really can be sent down is Pete Orr. That opens up a spot for one of the two, but soon Ryan Howard will be back and so will Chase Utley and so will Nix.

I think as of now, Thome will take Luna’s spot and Martinez will take Orr’s spot. Luna won’t continue his streak, as he is just a .267/.319/.393 career major league hitter with 14 home runs in 830 plate appearances over nine seasons. The Phillies – particularly Manuel – really like Martinez, so he will probably take Orr’s spot, even though Orr is substantially better as a hitter.

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