There have been some interesting rumblings from the Minnesota Twins Spring Training facility regarding free-agent designated hitter Jim Thome. The future Fall-of-Famer has already had one stint with the Twins when he was their primary DH in 2010. Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire told a reporter that he was still fighting to have Thome on his bench in 2013.
When asked if he had given up on adding Thome to the Twins’ roster the manager responded “Not yet. Still fighting that one.” He continued, “We’re going to see where we’re at and what we think of the guys we have first. And then, you know what, as we get along here in spring training, he’ll get antsy. So we’ll see what happens.”
It would be a peculiar move for several reasons. The Twins are rebuilding, and will almost certainly finish near the bottom of the American League. It would seem odd that Thome, a 42 year old in the waning hours of his career, would join a non-contending team.
Thome would also have to accept a role in which he would primarily be used as a pinch hitter. Switch-hitting Ryan Doumit handled DH duties last year and is the incumbent going into 2013. Plus, because Thome’s at a point where he’s so slow, Gardenhire would have to pinch run every time the big lefty got on base.
Lastly, there’s almost no way Twins’ GM could guarantee an aging pinch-hitter a guaranteed spot on the roster. Not only because Thome lacks versatilit,y but because the Twins need to let their young prospects gain some Major League experience.
But all of those points aside, I can guarantee Twins’ fans would open Thome back with open arms.
The big, smiling, lefty made quite an impression during his time in Minnesota, endearing himself by hitting his 600th home run in a Twins’ uniform, and with a walk-off home run against the rival Chicago White Sox during a playoff run in 2010. While he may be slow and one-dimensional, the guy can still slug.
In addition, he’s been known for being a great clubhouse guy, and a veteran presence is something the young roster seems to be lacking. It may be a long shot but under the right circumstances, Jim Thome could have his swan song in a Twins’ uniform.