Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Thome hoping to return to Sox after postseason run with Dodgers

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ST. LOUIS -- Jim Thome was one of the first players to emerge from the clubhouse and into the visiting dugout at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Thome was decked out in Dodger blue. It all looked so wrong. And it seemed all so right.

If anyone deserved a rags-to-riches story on the South Side this season, it's the future Hall of Famer named James Howard Thome from Peoria.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams presented Thome with a Get Out of Jail Free card on Aug. 31, springing the veteran slugger from a season-killing trip to Boston, New York and Minneapolis to accept a trade to the first-place Dodgers. It was Thome's chance to finally win a World Series ring after 19 seasons and 564 home runs in the majors.

Thome admits it wasn't an easy trade to approve. His teammates and coaches helped nudge him to Los Angeles, and Thome's now thankful for the move. But he can't get the Sox off his mind.

''I'll be honest, I would still love to come back,'' Thome said, tightening the blue batting gloves on each hand. ''I still care about the city. I mean, we're going to live there. Chicago's very fond in my heart. The time that I spent there, [chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] treated me great. I guess we'll deal with that when this is all over with.''

Thome, 39, will be a free agent this offseason. He hopes to have that elusive World Series ring on order once he files for free agency. But either way, he knows his days with the Dodgers are numbered.

He wants to return to the White Sox, even if they are toying with the idea of using Scott Podsednik as part of a revolving door built to accommodate speed at designated hitter.

It's likely they will at least entertain the idea now that Thome will be free from the $13 million salary he earned in the final

year of a seven-year, $85 million contract he originally signed with the Phillies in December 2002. But if the Sox say no, Thome seems determined to make a return to the American League Central and his next call likely would be to the -- brace yourself -- the defending division-champion Twins.

''I want to come back to the American League,'' Thome said. ''I guess you never know what's going to happen. Chicago is a great city. It's a great ballclub. The people there were great. If anything, I thank them for putting me where I'm at right now, giving me that opportunity.''

For now, Thome is focused on being a National Leaguer. And for one of the most feared designated hitters in baseball, that means adjusting to life as a pinch hitter.
The very thought caused him to pause during the 45-minute window he was given to approve the trade to the Dodgers.

''You're getting four at-bats in the American League; you're getting one here,'' he said. ''You have to do a lot of homework as a pinch hitter. You have to watch the game, you have to be ready. That has never been an issue. That part of DHing and pinch hitting is the same. You're really coming off the bench.''

It took some time for Thome to wrap his mind around the idea. For manager Joe Torre, it was a no-brainer to add the left-handed power hitter for the stretch drive.

''He is such a presence,'' Torre said before Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Cardinals. ''He talks to the players, he's easy to listen to. He's not a gung-ho guy, but when he says something, you listen to him because he's speaking from experience and he's speaking from really a blue-collar type of background. It's great to have him as a weapon and also just to be on the team.''

That's the very reason that Sox manager Ozzie Guillen placed such a premium on having Thome not only in his lineup, but in his clubhouse.

And leaving the Sox meant getting another chance at a World Series ring before time runs out.

''The ring would mean everything,'' Thome said. ''If you are put in the situation to do it, we were there in the '90s twice with Cleveland and it eats at you when you haven't accomplished it and you've come so close. That's why this will be special if it does happen.''

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23 Comments

Jimmy, come home to Cleveland, sweetie.

Thome a good guy from all reports. But Sox need to get younger & Thome never help Sox to get far in post season in 08 .

Jim thome should play first base has more power trade James loney his weak .stay whti the dodgers jim thome

Meh, you guys are better off without Jim Phony. He knows his time is running out, and he just hopes someone will let him play again. He always said he loved Cleveland and that "they would have to rip the jersey off his back." So yeah, it turns out that all he needed was a little bit of money from Philly, and he didn't need the jersey ripped off, he did a striptease!

So yeah, he is a phony, kind of like A-Rod, always saying what people want to hear, and never the truth.

Jim Thome should be welcomed back to the White Sox with open arms. He is an example of what is good about the players who make up the White Sox. Being a good athlete is only one part of being a professional athlete. Being a team player and getting along with your team mates is just as or even more important. Just look at a certain member of this year's Chicago Cubs.

Jimmy - Come back to Chicago!!!!

The day's of a DH only are coming to a close in the American League. Teams are now carrying 12 pitchers with starters going 5 or 6 innings. Would he play for a Cool Mil. like Big Game Freddie Garcia?
I tend to doubt it. So thanks for the memories Slugger Jim.

I think the Sox are better without Thome. He only swings for home runs & is never a situational hitter. Too many strikeouts in key moments. I hated to see him come to bat with a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs.

Anonymous, you got suckered by the Cleveland management, who low-balled Jim Thome and tried to take advantage of his willingness to take a hometown discount. You can be bitter if you want to; I would be too if I were a Cleveland fan. Just look at what that management has done to you guys over the years. If you could you should boo them instead of taking out your frustrations on Thome when he plays in town.

The Sox will need left-handed power coming from the DH or the bench in the likes of a Thome or a veteran like Helton. Thome ould be a good mix with the young players they now have. A true veteran would help keep the team on course during short losing streaks.

Jim is a true hall of famer in the future. But the Sox needs more production at the DH spot. Until he learns how to hit to the left side of the infield and lay down a occasional bunt to beat that ridiculous shift he will not be productive enough for the Sox. Basic fundamentals just play alittle fungo to the left side and that will cure the shift. Then we can use him. Nice guy and a future hall of famer but he totally frustrated me for the past two yrs.

Pass on Thome, he's getting old, and we need to be more athletic and young.

bring back thome because the white sox need that left hand hitting power to protect paul and jermaine dye.

When Jim Thome left the Sox, he was second on the team in RBI's...AS A PLATOON PLAYER. How can there be anything written about the guy. His teammates liked him, you never heard him complain about his role on the team or teammates, and I think most fans liked him. What killed the Sox this year was middle relief and one starter that is no longer with the team.

I love Thome. His on base percentage is typically 150 points above his batting average. Hitting in the 3 spot with sluggers behind him is ideal. I hope the Sox bring him back.

thome is awesome n can hit the ball all over the field ...he might have declined a little but hes still better than most

As a Cub fan, I hope they sign him, TOMORROW.

He's terrible.

Ummm? Does anyone here want to win? We can't win with Thome and Dye anymore. They are old, slow, can't play the field, can't score from second on a single. You guys want station to station baseball to return? Enjoy 83 losses again. I for one, want to become more athletic, faster, better defensively aka a real baseball team. They won't come back because they can't play the field, and they want a DH by committee, and you can't sit Thome 3 or 4 times a week when its not his turn to DH. Look, Thome is a class act and all, but he's not what we need.

I love you Officer Jim. Come back home! We need your solid, blue-collar presence for our young team.

Glad that Big Jim made the move to the Dodgers, and I hope he gets that ring he has chased for so many years. On the other side I hope his playing days for the Sox are over. The Sox need to get younger and faster for 2010 This was a very boring team and probably the worst Sox team defensively in my lifetime. Jim doesn't fit into their future plans any longer.

ROWAN FOR THOME - - WORST DEAL IN SOX HISTORY!!! WE DON'T NEED THOME, WHAT A STRIKEOUT KING, BUM. BRING BACK ROWAN, FIRE WILLIAMS, FIRE THE MORON GUILLEN, STOP COMMERCIALS WITH POLITICIANS.

I loved the original Thome move after winning the World Series,but we never came close again with Jim and all the slow guys clogging up the middle of the lineup. He never won in Philly either after he left Phillies win the Series,not his fault but his replacemant was a better player,with Howard the Phillies are a tough team.

Why would the Twins want a 39-year-old DH when they have a 27-year-old DH who just came off a career year?

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on October 10, 2009 4:38 PM.

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