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Jim Thome gave up at-bats for a shot at a ring

Slugger is 36 short of 600 homers, but he has never won a World Series title, and he likes his chances with the Dodgers.

September 03, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

Only 36 home runs short of 600, Jim Thome probably cost himself around 70 plate appearances when he waived his no-trade clause Monday night and accepted a trade to become a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers.

"I can't sit here and say I haven't thought about it," Thome said of the milestone only six players have reached.

At 39 years old, Thome is running out of time to hit his historic homer. He's also running out of time to win a World Series, something he hasn't done in his previous 18 major league seasons.

That was why he said he accepted to be traded by the Chicago White Sox.

"That's ultimately why you play this game, for this opportunity to win," said Thome, who joined the Dodgers on Wednesday. "That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I never would have been able to live it down if they celebrated in October and I wasn't a part of it."

Thome, who was hitting .249 with 23 home runs and 74 runs batted in as a designated hitter for the White Sox, maintained that he was physically unable to play first base and could only pinch-hit. He said he called Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti to tell him that before the trade was completed.

Thome has hit .215 with three home runs in 65 pinch-hit at-bats.

Manager Joe Torre said he didn't expect Thome to have any problems adjusting to his new role.

"As a designated hitter, you're pinch-hitting four times a game," Torre said.

With Thome on the team, Manny Ramirez is no longer the Dodger with the most home runs.

Thome has 22 more homers than Ramirez, who has 542.

Asked if he has reminded his former teammate in Cleveland of that fact, Thome laughed.

"I will," Thome said. "Respectfully, though."

Mientkiewicz activated, Ohman still waiting

Doug Mientkiewicz's never-ending stay on the disabled list came to an end.

Mientkiewicz, who separated his shoulder sliding head-first into second base in April, now faces an uphill climb to make the Dodgers' postseason roster. With Thome in the fold, the Dodgers now have another left-handed option off the bench -- one with more power.

Mientkiewicz said he welcomed the addition of Thome and that he still thought he would be one of the 25 Dodgers playing in October.

"It's like spring training," said Mientkiewicz, who was a non-roster player in camp. "I never thought I wasn't going to make the team. You can't think any other way."

Mientkiewicz hit for Chad Billingsley in the sixth inning and singled to right. He was greeted with high fives from teammates when he returned to the dugout.

Mientkiewicz took one of the two vacant spots on the Dodgers' 40-man roster that were cleared when right-hander Jesus Castillo was outrighted to double-A Chattanooga and left-hander Victor Garate was named as the player to be named in the trade with the Washington Nationals for Ronnie Belliard.

Garate, 24, is considered a legitimate prospect, as he had a 2.04 earned-run average in 53 innings of relief for Chattanooga.

Waiting for his turn to be activated from the 60-day disabled list is left-hander Will Ohman, who was sidelined by shoulder problems May 28 and hasn't pitched in the majors since.

Torre said that with George Sherrill, Hong-Chih Kuo and Scott Elbert on the roster, the Dodgers might not need another left-hander.

"It's disappointing," Ohman said. Referring to how he pitched in triple A on a minor league rehabilitation assignment, he said, "I didn't go to Albuquerque because I wanted to spend time in New Mexico."


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