CHICAGO — A year ago, Frank Thomas was headed toward his first batting title. Now he's just reaching for respectability.
Strange but true. One of baseball's best hitters of the 1990s isn't even close to .300.
"I got to relax a little tonight. It's been a long, tiresome season," Thomas said Friday night after his 20th homer capped a nine-run sixth inning for the Chicago White Sox in a 14-2 rout of the Seattle Mariners.
Thomas went three for four to raise his average to .256. Thomas has had little to say the last couple of months. The question: How can a lifetime .330 hitter, who won the American League batting title at .347 last season, drop to .250 for most of this season?
There are numerous theories: he's swinging at more pitches than usual; the strike zone has shifted; he's distracted by marital problems and he hasn't adjusted well to being a full-time designated hitter.
"It's been a difficult [year] for him," White Sox Manager Jerry Manuel said. "If he could put together a stretch of 45 games to close out the season it would be important for him and the franchise. I know he wants to finish strong."
Thomas' performance, four RBIs from Albert Belle and strong pitching from Mike Sirotka keyed Chicago's seventh victory in 10 games.
Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. went three for four but remained stuck on 41 homers. He hasn't homered since July 30.
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Next Series For Angels
WHO: Chicago White Sox
WHERE: Edison Field
WHEN: Monday, 7 p.m; Tuesday, 7 p.m.