UPDATE: Jim Thome has done it!
Thome just launched an opposite field three-run blast off left-hander Daniel Schlereth in the top of the seventh inning to reach the 600-home run plateau. The veteran slugger was greeted at home plate by his teammates and hugged his family on the field before returning to the dugout.
Thome has two home runs and five RBI tonight. This is his 48th career multi-home run game.
While his chase has largely flown under the radar, Thome is now in the same exclusive club with Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. Pretty special.
9:00 PM: Jim Thome is on the brink of history.
Thome launched career homer No. 599 in the top of the sixth inning tonight against the Tigers. It was a two-run shot to left-center field off right-hander Rick Porcello which gave the Twins a 5-3 lead. It was his 10th home run of the season and traveled an estimated 412 feet.
Thome, 40, is now just one home run away from being just the eighth player in major league history to reach 600 home runs. Alex Rodriguez was the most recent player to reach the milestone last August.
He should get another chance to bat in the seventh or eighth inning, so stay tuned to see if he can get there.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.