Indians to unveil statue of Jim Thome on August 2

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Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians will unveil a statue of Jim Thome on August 2. Thome, who still has not officially retired, has hit 612 home runs over a 22-year Major League career. 337 of them came in 13 seasons with the Indians between 1991-2002 and a second stint in 2011.

Hoynes describes the statue as featuring Thome doing his patented bat-point (seen in the image to the right), which Thome says he adopted upon a suggestion from Charlie Manuel, a hitting coach in the minors at the time. Manuel saw Robert Redford do it in “The Natural”.

Thome can be found in the top-ten on a multitude of Indians franchise leaderboards for offensive stats. Most noteworthy, he leads the franchise with 337 dingers, followed by Albert Belle with 242. He also has the third-highest OPS (.980) behind Manny Ramirez (.998) and Shoeless Joe Jackson (.983).

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.