Is Jim Thome fantasy-relevant again?

Updated: April 28, 2010, 4:13 PM ET
By Eric Karabell
When the Minnesota Twins signed Jim Thome to a one-year deal in January, I was pretty convinced the long-time designated hitter was going to play quite a bit, likely costing Delmon Young at-bats. Nearly a month into the season, Young has certainly played more than Thome, though Young hasn't been an every-day player, and more importantly, he hasn't been a very good player. But an injury to another Twin might just create more opportunities for Thome after all.

First baseman Justin Morneau left Tuesday's game because of stiffness in the back of his right rib cage, an injury he says shouldn't keep him out of action more than a couple of days. Then again, Morneau missed the end of the 2009 season because of a stress fracture in his lower back. The team has made it clear this injury is to muscle and not, like the stress fracture, to bone, but any time I see the words "back injury" associated with Morneau, it's noteworthy. Frankly, concerns about injury, and not production, helped push Morneau to the fifth round of ESPN average live drafts, well below previous levels. A Morneau injury would move Michael Cuddyer to first base, opening up an outfield spot for Jason Kubel and the designated hitter role for the guy with 564 career home runs.