Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports that former 1B/DH Jim Thome has signed a one-day contract to officially retire as an Indian. It coincides with the organization’s unveiling of a Thome statue at Progressive Field.
Many former Indians showed up at Progressive Field to help honor Thome, including managers Charlie Manuel and Mike Hargrove, GM John Hart, and infielder Carlos Baerga. Manuel and Thome, as expected, were effusive in praise of each other:
Thome played parts of 22 seasons between 1991-2012. He retires with 612 career home runs, which ranks seventh all-time behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Ken Griffey, Jr. He wore the uniforms of the Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Dodgers, Twins, and Orioles.
Hall of Fame voting has been wonky as of late, so one hesitates in calling Thome a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but he certainly is in a just society.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.