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.

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
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Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.

The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.

While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.

Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.

It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.