Thome: "Hopefully Soon" Describes Return

The plan was for Jim Thome to return to the Phillies lineup this weekend for a series in Baltimore. Plans change. Now, Thome will stay in Florida and continue his rehab for a back injury that has kept him out of the lineup for almost three weeks.

Jim Thome certainly didn't sound too confident about his return to the Phillies lineup after playing in his second extended spring game on Thursday. "It's coming along. Doing better," said Thome when asked how his back felt after the game.

Thome went 2-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a sacrifice fly in the game against Tampa Bay prospects at the Namoli Complex in St.Petersburg.

When pressed on whether or not he felt he was ready to return to the lineup this weekend, Thome admitted that he wasn't quite sure. Just when would he return? "Hopefully soon," was all he would say. A short time later, the Phillies announced that Thome would stay on the DL at least through the weekend after experiencing some stiffness in his back. There is no definite timetable for his return to the lineup.

In hindsight, Thome said that maybe he tried to come back too quickly in spring training, causing more damage to his back and hurting his season. "I may have (come back too soon), but I was doing better and really wanted to play. Opening day is a lot of excitement and I just really want to play," explained Thome.

See an exclusive photo gallery of Jim Thome in extended spring training.

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