Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

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Is Jim Thome a Hall of Famer?

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 16, 2011
DETROIT (AP) -- When Jim Thome came to the plate, needing one home run for 600, the opposing pitcher wasn't even aware how close he was to the milestone. Then Thome sent a towering fly ball over the fence in left field. The scoreboard flashed a congratulatory message, rival fans stood and applauded, and the Minnesota Twins came out of the dugout to greet their slugger. After reaching No. 600 in grand style Monday night -- with two home runs in back-to-back innings during a 9-6 win over Detroit -- Thome finally earned some appreciation following a pursuit that seemed to go unnoticed for much of the season. The 40-year-old became the eighth player to reach the mark, and only Babe Ruth did it in fewer at-bats. Next stop, Cooperstown? "I don't know. That's not for me to decide," Thome said. "That would be a dream. It's pretty special. I don't think it's really hit home. To be mentioned and have the Hall of Fame mentioned, that's just very, very special. That's just really cool." Fighting injuries during a frustrating season in Minnesota, Thome didn't receive nearly the amount of national publicity that his predecessors who reached 600 homers did. Even Derek Jeter's accomplishment of 3,000 hits earlier this season dwarfed the attention Thome received for an accomplishment far more rare. There were reasons for that, of course. Jeter is one of the game's icons, playing for its most famous team -- and perhaps on some level, fans became numb to sky-high power numbers after so many of Thome's contemporaries reached 600 before him. Thome is the fifth player since 2002 to enter that club, beginning with Barry Bonds nine years ago. Alex Rodriguez was the most recent to achieve the milestone, last August. Unlike Bonds and Rodriguez, Thome has largely eluded suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. His country-strong physique was never chiseled like some of the hulking sluggers who proliferated his generation. "You look at how long he's played in the game and when you're able to do something like that, it's preparation, taking care of yourself," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If you watch him come to the ballpark very early every day and prepare himself to get his body motivated, which we all know as you get a little older, it's not that easy. But to watch him get himself motivated and get himself up to be able to do these things, hopefully a lot of our guys can learn a lot." This season has been a struggle for Thome. He's been bothered by injuries to his toe, oblique and quadriceps. His milestone homer was only his 11th of the year in his 185th at-bat, and he admitted on Monday night that he was wondering if it was ever going to happen. It did all right. Just as Jeter reached hit No. 3,000 in dramatic fashion during a five-hit game last month, Thome arrived at his milestone with flair. His two-run homer in the sixth gave him 599, then he harnessed the power again in that pure left-handed swing, lifting a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Schlereth in the seventh over the fence in left field. "I wasn't really aware of it. I knew he was close to 600, but I didn't know if that was going to be the one," Schlereth said. "I'm not exactly happy about it, but he's a great player, and I'm a huge fan of his. He did a great thing tonight, and ... I felt kind of awkward, I didn't know whether to clap or what." By the time Thome touched home, Detroit's fans were well aware of the accomplishment and showed their appreciation. The celebration at the plate included Thome's father, wife and children, but it didn't delay the game much. "Obviously when you're on the road, the game has to move on," Thome said. "To stop there and cherish that moment -- in the visiting park they give you a standing ovation -- is really cool. Throughout the years, there's been a little bit of heckling here, through the years, for the good. To watch them stand up and cheer is very, very special." It was perhaps fitting that Thome reached No. 600 in a matchup of AL Central rivals. He hit 334 home runs with Cleveland and 134 with the Chicago White Sox. Ruth reached No. 600 in 6,921 at-bats. Thome needed 8,167. Only seven hitters have hit more home runs than the burly Thome: Bonds, Hank Aaron, Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. Thome, of course, still has time to add to his total -- and bolster his Hall of Fame case even more. Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't need convincing. "Certainly that's a Hall of Fame achievement," Leyland said. "Hall of Fame from the get-go. He's just a Hall of Fame guy, and a Hall of Fame player."

Sunday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: JBJ sits, Vazquez catches

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Sunday's Red Sox-Rays lineups: JBJ sits, Vazquez catches

Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the day off and Christian Vazquez get the start at catcher as the Red Sox look to extend their winning streak to 11 games today against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. 

Andrew Benintendi replaces Bradley in center, Chris Young is in left and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.84 ERA) is on the mound as the Red Sox close in on the A.L. East title. Their magic number to clinch the division is three with seven games left. 

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (9-6, 3.73) is on the mound for the Rays.

The lineups:  

RED SOX 
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez LF
Travis Shaw 3B
Chris Young LF
Andrew Benintendi CF
Christian Vazquez C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP 

RAYS
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Brad Miller SS
Mikey Mahtook RF
Corey Dickerson LF
Curt Casali DH
Luke Maile C
Richie Shaffer 1B
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Jake Odorizzi RHP 
 

Belichick concerned about availability of QBs? 'Injury report on Wednesday'

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Belichick concerned about availability of QBs? 'Injury report on Wednesday'

Bill Belichick has a pair of young quarterbacks dealing with injuries at the moment. Jimmy Garoppolo was inactive for Thursday's win over the Texans due to a Grade 2 AC joint sprain he endured in Week 2 against the Dolphins, and Jacoby Brissett sustained a minor injury to his right thumb in his first pro start last week. 

Asked if he was concerned about either player being available for New England's Week 4 contest against the Bills, Belichick didn't provide much in the way of hints one way or another.

"Well, we'll all give our injury report on Wednesday, as we always do, as we're required to do," Belichick said. "Based on where things are at that point, that'll be represented in the report."

If there's concern over both quarterbacks as the team gets closer to its final game without Tom Brady, it may be forced to add a quarterback so as not to subject an emergency option, like receiver Julian Edelman, to extended snaps behind center.