Designated hitter Jim Thome joined the Orioles in Boston and told reporters before Friday night’s game that he is ready to play, but manager Buck Showalter decided to give him at least a day before returning to the starting lineup.
“Everything has been great,’’ Thome said. “It’s been a process that we stuck by the plan and everything has gone according to the plan we laid out in Sarasota. I think the next step is to come in here and help with what these guys have been doing. It’s been great to watch on the other end.”
Thome said he was able to remain patient as he went through the rehab process to come back from a disk herniation in his neck by keeping his eye on the ultimate prize – another opportunity to go into October with a chance to go deep into the postseason.
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“That’s one thing I kept telling myself is the back end of all this could be more important than rushing back on the front end,’’ he said. “This is what everybody dreams of, to put yourself – our club – to put yourself in this opportunity to maybe go into October and experience it. No matter how many times you’ve been there, it never gets old. You don’t know how many years you’re going to have of that opportunity, so for me, I think it was a motivational end to get back as quickly as I could and help them.”
Though he has played in nine postseasons, he said that making the playoffs for the 10th time would be special because of the nature of this Orioles team.
“That’s always the fun thing is watching guys experience it all for the first time if we’re put in that situation,’’ Thome said. “Obviously, we have a lot more to do here. We have a lot more to focus on here for the next week and a half. If we can stay true to what we have done, hopefully we’ll get to that point.”
Thome again deflected questions about his future beyond this season.
“I don’t talk about next year,’’ he said. “I want to talk about this year…There’s no guarantee for tomorrow, much less next year.”