Jim Thome is making a return to the diamond, sorta

Jim Thome will make a grand return to the baseball diamond this Friday.

Jim Thome played for the Charlotte Knights in 1993, when they were a minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians and managed by Charlie Manuel.

MLB.com

Jim Thome will make a grand return to the baseball diamond this Friday.

The future Hall of Famer will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Friday, as they open their season at the new BB&T Ballpark.

The former Indians slugger played for the Knights in 1993, when they were Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate. That season, Thome hit 25 homers and drove in 102 runs for a league-leading .332 average, which earned him the International League MVP Award. The Knights won a franchise-record 86 games and captured the league title with the help of guys like Manny Ramirez and manager Charlie Manuel.

At the time, Charlotte was a training ground that helped shape many of the young players who went on to be a part of the Indians powerhouse teams of the 90's.

"That year in Triple-A kind of kick-started my career," Thome said of the 1993 season. "Obviously, Charlotte, I have fond memories. I met a lot of great people there and to go back is an honor."

Thome now works as a consultant for the Chicago White Sox, Charlotte's Major League affiliate.

He will be honored by the Cleveland Indians with a statue at Progressive Field, which will be unveiled in a ceremony on Aug. 2.