Jim Thome plays third base for first time since 1996

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For one pitch anyway.

Jim Thome, perhaps appearing in his final game in Cleveland for the Indians, took to his old position for one pitch in the ninth inning Sunday, playing third base for the first time since Sept. 29, 1996.

Thome had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.  He left to a standing ovation after the one pitch.

It was the first time Thome had appeared anywhere in the field since he played one game at first base for the White Sox in 2007.  He was last a regular first baseman in 2005.  Thome played 492 games at third base in his first six seasons in the majors, but none sense.

Thome hasn’t announced whether he’ll return for a 22nd big-league season in 2012.  He became just the eighth player to reach 600 career homers earlier this year.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.