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Big Hurt to stay in Chicago

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Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - first baseman/designated hitter has informed the team he will stay in Chicago for the 2004 season. Thomas will exercise a $6 million contract option for next season rather than test the free-agent market. He tested the free agent market for the first time in his career last year after the team invoked a clause in his contract that allowed them to defer most of his $10 million salary.

The 35-year-old Thomas then re-signed with the team, agreeing to a one-year deal with an additional option.

Thomas, a two-time MVP, hit .267 with 42 homers and 105 RBI last season. He also recorded a .562 slugging percentage with an on-base percentage of .390. The Auburn product also posted his 2,000th career hit on August 4.

"Frank is certainly the greatest hitter in the long history of this organization," general manager Kenny Williams was quoted as saying on the team's website. "Very much to his credit, Frank rebounded at the plate in 2003, and we are looking forward to another season with having Frank as one of the more potent offensive players in the American League."

Thomas is a lifetime .310 hitter with 418 home runs and 1,390 RBI. He is a five-time All Star selection.

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