Royals’ hitting nemesis quietly leaves Kansas City


By Greg Echlin
FOXSportsKansasCity.com
September 29, 2010
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Not even Jim Thome, a career one-man wrecking crew against Kansas City Royals pitching, could have helped the Minnesota Twins Tuesday night.� Not after the Royals scored ten or more runs in back-to-back games for the first time since 2006.
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Thome returned to the Twin Cities earlier in the day to take care of a back that�s been barking lately in his 40-year old body. He hopes to be ready for Minnesota�s post-season play next week. Considering how Thome treated Royals pitchers on their last trip to Target Field earlier this month, the staff would have planned a going-away party had they been informed in advance.
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In two games of the three-game series he played against the Royals, Sept. 6 and 7, Thome homered in each game and went a combined 3-for-4 with two walks. His career numbers against the Royals�47 home runs and 134 RBI�have the look of a candidate seeking the Most Valuable Player award.� His 47 homers against the Royals is the most ever Kansas City has yielded to one opponent. Yes, even more than Alex Rodriguez and Reggie Jackson.
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This season Thome has four homers against the Royals. Vladimir Guerrero had the most with six followed by Russell Branyan and Carlos Quentin, each with five. But Thome’s home run ratio (21 ABs) against the Royals was by far better than all the others.
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�He�s been more like a truckload than a handful for us, especially the last series,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “I mean he just single-handedly demolished us with the long ball. I mean long, long balls. Not just long balls.� He�s still got some game left.�
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Yost was on the Atlanta Braves coaching staff in 1999 when Thome slugged what still stands as the longest homer at Cleveland�s Progressive Field�511 feet against the Royals. Ironically, Thome was working through back spasms at that time.
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There�s no telling what Thome decides to do with his future after this season, but with the exception of three seasons in Philadelphia and a 17-game stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, Thome has been terrorizing Royals pitchers as an American League Central opponent since he was a September call-up in 1991.
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Yost added, �I�ve got an appreciation for him on a couple of different fronts. He�s such a quality individual. He is such a gamer.� He�s a guy that�s a great teammate. He�s a great ambassador for the game and he can still hit and be productive as an offensive player.�
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When Thome batted against the Royals this season, Yost employed a drastic shift on the right side of the infield. That is, if Thome didn�t hit it out. Of his 271 at-bats this season, Thome has 76 hits and 81 strikeouts. That accounts for 58% of his ABs.� For the remaining 42%, the Royals positioned three infielders on the right side, especially knowing that Thome doesn�t set any speed record from home to first.
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But Yost won�t knock any part of Thome�s game.
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�I can�t think of one negative thing regarding Jim Thome to be honest with you,� he said. �He might not be the best defender in the world anymore, but he sure fits that DH role to a ‘T’ when he�s healthy.�
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Yost saw Thome as a fielder with Philadelphia, 52 games at first in his last year with the Phillies in 2005. The last time Thome played anytime defensively was three years ago, one game at first for the Chicago White Sox.