Jim Thome is “ahead of schedule” and nearing rehab stint

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Two weeks ago Jim Thome was worried that a herniated disk in his neck might knock him out for the rest of the season, but now the future Hall of Famer is scheduled to begin rehabbing at the Orioles’ spring training complex tomorrow.

Doctors initially told Thome to rest for at least 30 days, which would have ruled out a return before September, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the 41-year-old designated hitter is “ahead of schedule” and could be cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment before the end of the month.

Manager Buck Showalter seems cautiously optimistic that the Orioles will get Thome’s bat back in the lineup for the stretch run after he hit .261 with two homers and a .746 OPS in 18 games following a June 30 trade from Philadelphia.