There was some bitterness when Jim Thome bolted for Philadelphia following the 2002 season, but it hasn’t taken long for him to be embraced in his second act with Cleveland.
According to the Associated Press, the Indians announced plans before tonight’s game to honor Thome by erecting a bronze statue of his likeness in Heritage Park beyond the wall in center field. The statue will depict Thome doing his trademark bat point.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the statue will be in the same area where his 511-foot home run landed on July 3, 1999, which is the longest home run in the history of the ballpark.
Too soon for a Thome statue? Maybe. Others (Larry Doby, hello?) who are also deserving? You bet. But including his two-run blast in the bottom of the third inning tonight — the 604th home run of his career — the 41-year-old slugger holds the Indians’ franchise record with 337 home runs.
After the Cubs won the World Series last month — their first since 1908 — owner Tom Ricketts said he plans to reach out to Steve Bartman to provide “closure.”
Bartman was the fan who interfered with left fielder Moises Alou’s attempt to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. Alou was particularly irate about Bartman’s presence and it led to the fan becoming persona non grata in Chicago. In the time since, even before the Cubs won the World Series, the club has tried to make amends but Bartman has rejected offers to speak publicly and he has also rejected invitations to Wrigley Field.
Alou pledged to make time to attend any ceremony the Cubs stage for Bartman, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times reports.
Alou said, “Why not? I’d like to meet Bartman.” He continued, “I have nothing against the guy. I said it right after the game. I had the ball, and I got upset, but at the same time it’s not that kid’s fault. Everybody goes to the ballpark, and they bring a glove. Every wants to catch a fly ball.” However, He still maintains that he would have caught the ball if he had not been impeded.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.