White Sox

Sox Drawer: Thome close to finish line?

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Sox Drawer: Thome close to finish line?

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011Posted: 8:12 p.m.
By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

It's three-and-a-half hours before the first pitch between the White Sox and Indians, and Jim Thome is back in Chicago, all alone in the bowels of U.S. Cellular Field, taking his customary whacks into a baseball net.

With the scent of Bengay surrounding him, Thome is preparing his 41-year-old body for Thursday's game, the 2,745th of his major league career. Thome is one who always lives in the now, playing for the present. However, here in the final month of the season, with his numbers tailing off just like they've done for every baseball great to ever play the game, there's a part of Jim that is starting to see the finish line.

"You can't play baseball forever," said Thome, seated in the Indians dugout, back with the team that drafted him in the 13th round in 1989. "To sit here and answer today, 'Am I going to play next year?' I don't know. That being said, you go out and you enjoy it. If we're not able to get into the playoffs and we go home, I'll enjoy every moment that I was able to come back to Cleveland and be apart of this great organization that drafted me, and look at it being very special."

Since the time he learned how to walk, Thome has basically had a bat in his hand. Baseball is what he knows, and what he does. It's provided Thome with a bright path to follow all these years. But what happens when that journey comes to an end?

"I think that's a challenge, and also something I look forward to, being there everyday with my family and turning to that phase of my life," Thome said. "None of us baseball players have been home everyday, and it's exciting to think about it, and also a little bit scary, because you don't know what the next chapter is. Maybe I will stay in the game, that's kind of the feeling, but I don't think any player really knows until after they retire."

Two weeks ago, the internet nearly exploded in Chicago when rumors spread that the White Sox had attempted to claim Thome off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. It would have brought Thome back to the Southside for one final curtain call. Thome heard the same rumors we did. However, it was the Indians who nabbed him, giving Thome the possibility of ending his career with the team where it all began.

But Chicago still has a special place in Thome's heart. He and his family still live here, and he plans to retire in Chicago when his career is over.

"I think everybody knows my history here in Chicago. I have fond memories. Jerry (Reinsdorf), the organization has treated me great here," Thome said. "That was a very special time in my career, especially with everything that happened with Mom, and coming home and getting the opportunity to play here was very special."

If you'd like to see Thome play again, this might be your last chance. It's the Indians' final trip to Chicago this year, and not knowing what the future holds, it could be the unofficial good-bye for the burly slugger who has belted 602 home runs in a career that should ultimately end at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Thome played only three-and-a-half seasons with the White Sox (2006-2009). Does he wish he could have stayed a little longer? The answer is yes, but....

"I would pick every team that I played for and say, 'Man it would be very special to have played for them a little longer,' absolutely yeah," Thome said. "But that's the business and that's part of it. You don't have any second regrets. You don't look back and go, 'I wish here, I wish there.' It's all been positive and great."

And that's the essence of Jim Thome, a man who seems to live in a world where it's always 75 degrees and sunny with light winds. His carefree demeanor blended with a burning desire to win has made him one of the game's most popular players both on and off the field. When time expires on his career, he'll have decades of memories to look back on. But why wait until then? Thome is soaking it in already.

"As we go through baseball it's a whirlwind, and it goes by so quick that sometimes you need to take a step back and reflect on it and smile."

He smiles. We cheer. He's earned every one of them.

White Sox Podcast: Joc Pederson to the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Podcast: Joc Pederson to the White Sox?

Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss the rumor that the White Sox have been in talks with the Dodgers about acquiring outfielder Joc Pederson.

-Good move? Bad move? (1:30)

-What should the White Sox give up for Pederson? (8:30)

-Plus, don't overlook the moves the White Sox have already made this offseason (17:20)

-Why Dane Dunning and Zack Burdi didn't get an invite to White Sox spring training (19:40) and

-Previewing SoxFest (23:15)

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox & Hall of Famers Cross Paths

White Sox & Hall of Famers Cross Paths

Today is one of my favorite days of the year; the day where the Hall of Fame results are announced. I’m all in favor of a big Hall; I enjoy celebrating the greatness of players, so the more, the merrier. Today we welcome four new members to Cooperstown. 

None of the four ever played for the White Sox, so there’s no White Sox highlights piece to write. However… what about notable games, moments or milestones where the White Sox intersect with one of the newly elected Hall of Famers? 

Below are nine of those.

September 12, 1987
By the time Edgar Martínez entered the game in the 6th inning (as a pinch runner for Jim Presley), Seattle was comfortably ahead by the score of 11-1. His first plate appearance came two innings later when he fouled out against Sox reliever Ray Searage. Welcome to the Majors, Mr. Martínez. It was his Major League debut.

August 4, 1991
The White Sox beat the Orioles 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel at New Comiskey Park. The difference in the score – just one run. The difference in the age of the starting pitchers – over 20 years. Charlie Hough (age 43 years, 211 days) tossed a complete game shutout. Mike Mussina (age 22 years, 239 days) took a tough loss… it was his Major League debut.
By the way, the lone run was a Frank Thomas solo homer in the 6th inning. The Big Hurt went 3 for 3 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk against Mussina. This would become a theme. He homered more against Mussina (9 times) than any other pitcher throughout his Hall of Fame career.

July 4, 1995
The White Sox lost 4-1 against the Yankees on Independence Day. The lone run they scored was a John Kruk RBI single in the 9th inning off Yankees closer John Wetteland. The Yankee starter that day tossed 8 scoreless innings and struck out 11. It was the only 10+ strikeout performance of Mariano Rivera’s career.

May 2, 2003
Edgar Martínez went 2 for 4 with a walk against the White Sox in a 9-2 win at US Cellular Field. 
The second hit, a 6th inning single off Gary Glover, was the 2,000th hit of his MLB career.

April 11, 2004
The White Sox scored three runs in the top of the first inning in the Bronx off Yankees starter Mike Mussina.
It wasn’t enough. The New Yorkers clawed back and won the game 5-4. It was Mussina’s 200th career win.

July 16, 2006
Mariano Rivera became the 4th member of the 400-save club in a 6-4 win over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. It was the 11th and final time he had a save of at least 2 innings during the regular season (his first 2-inning save was also against the White Sox on August 14, 1996).

August 8, 2006
Paul Konerko, born in Providence, Rhode Island, set a monumental record on this day. With his 237th home run, he passed Gabby Hartnett for the all-time record for career home runs by players born in the smallest US state. The White Sox were playing the Yankees at home, and the record-setting blast handed Mariano Rivera a blown save, tying the game at 5 in the bottom of the 9th.

May 31, 2007
Mark Buehrle tossed a complete game two-hitter, walking none at the Rogers Centre, which was great except for two things: 
First, both hits were solo home runs. Second, opposing starter Roy Halladay allowed no runs in his seven innings. The Jays won 2-0 and Halladay earned career win number 100.

July 28, 2007
Speedster Jerry Owens played 129 career games – all with the White Sox. 
He also hit one career home run… a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 7th inning to break a scoreless tie. The pitcher? Roy Halladay. It would be the only two runs of a 2-0 White Sox win over the Blue Jays at US Cellular Field.