Thome could help court Cuddyer

"I would put Michael [Cuddyer] as one of my top-five, all-time favorite teammates," Jim Thome said. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

One of the instant benefits to signing Jim Thome could be his recruiting ability.

Thome played coy Saturday when asked, but it was clear he had already begun selling the idea of joining the Phillies to former Minnesota teammate Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer is a free agent who can mash lefties and play multiple positions. The Phillies, like many teams, would value that sort of commodity.

During his re-introductory news conference Saturday, Thome had nothing but praise for the 32-year-old Cuddyer.

"I would put Michael as one of my top-five, all-time favorite teammates," Thome said. "No question. He's up there. He's a winner."

As colleague Bob Brookover noted last week, Cuddyer fits the Phillies well. Because of his versatility, the Phillies could use him where needed whenever injury strikes. They will not be alone in the sweepstakes to sign him. But Ruben Amaro Jr. has a close relationship with Cuddyer's agent, Casey Close. (He also represents Ryan Howard.)

Thome was asked if he could gauge Cuddyer's interest in Philadelphia.

"I can't answer that," Thome said. "I knew you'd ask that. Look, every player that sees the way the Phillies have done things over the last seven or eight years, they've set the bar very, very high. Guys around baseball would love to come here. When you win, you create a lot of good things."

Cuddyer didn't say he wanted to join Thome?

"He did not," Thome said.

Could Thome encourage such a thing?

"I could, yes," Thome said. "Absolutely. I'm sure we will talk going forward."

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