Sunday, August 15, 2004

Add an aching Thome to Phillies' woes

Star 1B day-to-day as Philadelphia trails Atlanta by 8 games

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - Phillies slugger Jim Thome is day-to-day with a right shoulder injury.

Thome was out of Philadelphia's lineup for Saturday's 7-6 loss to San Francisco after injuring himself Friday. X-rays were negative, and the All-Star first baseman has a bruised joint in his right shoulder.

Thome was hurt when he was hit by a grounder, but he stayed in the game a few more innings.

"I couldn't even raise my arm this morning," Thome said.

Thome, in his second season with the Phillies, is hitting .279 with 35 homers and 80 RBI.

His absence was more bad news for the Phillies, who trail National League East-leading Atlanta by eight games and have been decimated by injuries this year. Left fielder Pat Burrell could face season-ending wrist surgery, and third baseman David Bell has been sidelined a week by back spasms.

Starter Kevin Millwood (elbow) and closer Billy Wagner (shoulder) are out indefinitely, and reliever Ryan Madson (finger) is sidelined.

Some Phillies fans are giving up hope of a turnaround. Chants of "E-A-G-L-E-S!" have been heard at Citizens Bank Park as spectators have begun turning their attention to Philadelphia's football team.

"They expected more from us," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.

YANKEES: Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has the flu, dropped his appeal of a four-game suspension and began serving the penalty when New York played Seattle Saturday. He'll be eligible to return Thursday against the Twins.

Rodriguez was one of five players who were suspended after a fight between the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway Park July 24. The brawl started after Bronson Arroyo hit Rodriguez with a pitch, and Rodriguez and Boston catcher Jason Varitek scuffled.

Rodriguez has 29 homers and 71 RBI this season.

DEVIL RAYS: Outfielder Rocco Baldelli was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right quadriceps. Baldelli, hitting .279 with 10 home runs and 53 RBI, left Friday's game with Texas in the second inning after injuring himself trying to beat out a double-play grounder in the first.

ATHLETICS: Dennis Eckersley, who saved a franchise-record 320 games for the A's and closed out their 1989 World Series win over San Francisco, was honored before Saturday's game against Kansas City for his induction into the Hall of Fame last month. He won the American League MVP and Cy Young Awards in 1992, going 7-1 with 51 saves and a 1.91 ERA.

"The time I spent in Oakland were the greatest years of my life," said Eckersley, who had 390 saves in his career.

HENDERSON HOPEFUL: Rickey Henderson is not waiting by his phone for a call from a club offering another shot at the major leagues.

But the 45-year-old outfielder believes he deserves another chance as he toils in the minors for the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League.

"If a team needs help, then they can call me," Henderson said. "I'm just enjoying the game. If something happens, it happens."

Henderson was in Oakland to help the A's honor Eckersley.

"I played with a lot of great players," said Eckersley, a former teammate of Mark McGwire, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice and Carl Yastrzemski. "Rickey Henderson was the greatest player I ever played with."

Henderson has the most runs (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406) in major-league history and was surpassed earlier this season by Barry Bonds for the walks record.

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