41-year-old Jim Thome isn’t done mashing taters off big league pitchers, but he has a job waiting for him when he retires.
According to Chuck Garfen of CSNChicago.com, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said at SoxFest last night that he and Thome have a handshake deal for the veteran slugger to work for the team when his playing career is over.
“When he left here to go to the Twins (in 2010), we kind of shook hands and agreed that, whenever his career is over, he’ll come back to the White Sox in some capacity,” Reinsdorf said. “He did say that he wants to live in Chicago. Whenever it’s over, hopefully I’ll see him back here. And I hope I live to see him go into the Hall of Fame.”
“Anything he wants,” Reinsdorf said. “I’d like to see him come to spring training, work with the young players. He’s a great role model. He really understands hitting. This is not just a guy who goes up there with a bat and swings. He understands hitting. We’ve talked about hitting a lot. He understands it. There’s a lot that he can impart. Just being around, you know. If he goes on to be a big league coach, that would work too.”
Thome was mentioned as a possibility for the White Sox hitting coach job prior to signing a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Phillies in early November. The club has since hired former major-league infielder Jeff Manto to join Robin Ventura’s staff.
Thome currently sits in eighth-place on the all-time list with 604 career home runs. He doesn’t figure to get many at-bats with the Phillies this season, but Sammy Sosa (in seventh place with 609 career home runs) is within striking distance.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.
I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:
Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.
Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.
I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.
Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.