Thursday, July 15, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
MINNEAPOLIS Jim Thome was always crystal clear with how thrilled he was to play in Chicago, and seems to prize his three-plus seasons slugging for the White Sox higher than any others. Between his hometown ties and the fact that his former team has soared past his Minnesota Twins in the standings, Thome has been keeping an eye on the Pale Hose.
Thome got in a few words in between Twins batting practice, his daily back maintenance routine and a team meeting before Thursdays game. The DH, hitting .255 with 10 homers and 29 RBI for third-place Minnesota, admitted being impressed with his former team.
Wow, its hard to put together a streak like that a better than .800 stretch for a week or maybe two, not a month or more, Thome said. Its a good group there, and with pitching like theyve been getting, Im not surprised at all theyre playing so well.
Thome took particular interest watching his old White Sox running mate, Paul Konerko, in Tuesdays All-Star Game, even though Konerkos appearance came at the expense of new teammate Justin Morneau-who missed the All-Star Game, as well as tonights series opener, with a concussion.
Paul is so deserving, Thome said through a smile, reminded that Konerko, with four Midsummer Classics in the books, now trails him by just one All-Star appearance. You couldnt have a better teammate or a better friend in this game. I couldnt be happier for him.
Of course, Thome is no doorknob, either. The 39-year-old has slugged his way past Rafael Palmeiro and Twins hero Harmon Killebrew this season, jumping to No. 10 on the all-time list with Mark McGwire clearly in his sights in the second half.
Its the same thing Id say in Chicago, or even before that, Thome said. You see some of the names youre alongside, above or below you, and its just mind-boggling. Ive been so incredibly fortunate in this game.
When asked to take it easy on his former mates tonightThome hit homers vs. the Indians at a slightly higher clip than his career vs. all other teams in spite of slugging in his prime years for ClevelandMr. Incredible just shrugged and grinned.
In other words, brace yourselves, Sox fans.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.