When you look back at the season Jim Thome had in 2010, it was spectacular. And we knew it at the time. But we also knew that bringing him back was going to be a risk. The price had to be right and it was certainly a gamble, considering all the things we know about his ability (or lack of ability) to stay loose, but he was a sentimental choice not just because he was closing in on 600 home runs but because he truly is a great guy.
Early in 2010 he was rested often, due to a crowded outfield and a healthy, MVP-caliber first baseman. It allowed him to be productive when he played. When Justin Morneau went down Thome saw action nearly everyday, and eventually the toll wore on him. He missed two games at the end of August due to lower back pain, missed two games in the middle of September with an abdominal strain, missed six more games at the end of September with a lower back injury, and we all saw how he looked in the playoffs. Rusty. In pain. Much more human than he'd been in the middle of the summer.
Those issues have carried through to 2011. Four games at the end of April with an oblique injury, eventually hitting the disabled list and not returning until May 22; left shoulder inflammation a week later. And now he's back on the DL with a strained left quad.
Thome blasted a pair of homers in his return from his April DL time, skewing what would have been an impressive .300/.464/.650 line for Minnesota in May. Still, those two home runs mean his season line is still a very useful (if he were healthy) triple slash of .237/.372/.447. When he comes back, regardless of who else is healthy and available, Gardenhire needs to treat Thome with care.
It's been a tough journey. And it's probably going to get worse before it gets better. The Twins will eventually gut themselves, selling off spare parts to the highest bidder, and at some point they will need to make a decision on whether or not to shut down Justin Morneau.
But that's a story for another day.
On his way back to Minnesota is Ben Revere. Revere, who hit his first home run of the season just a few days ago, returns with a .303 batting average for the Red Wings, 8 stolen bases in 10 chances, 6 walks and 11 strikeouts on the year. He was 13-for-40 (.325) with one double, one triple and the one aforementioned homer in his short stint back in triple-A.