On what was basically Jim Thome Appreciation Night in Cleveland, the Indians' all-time leader in home runs didn't disappoint a Progressive Field crowd of 36,807. Thome slugged a single, double, and home run, driving in half of the Indians' runs in a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Prior to the game, Indians officials announced that they were going to erect a statue of Thome at Progressive Field. The announcement was made during pre-game ceremonies attended by several of Thome's former teammates, who came to honor Thome for his career achievements, most notably his hitting his 600th career homer earlier this season.
Although the Indians were unable to win the Central Division and get Thome back to the postseason, which was what both parties were hoping for when the Indians acquired him in a trade with Minnesota on August 25, Thome's return to Cleveland has in all other ways been a success.
Many unforgiving fans booed him Thome lustily during the years when he returned to Cleveland as an opposing player. But since he returned to the Indians this season, the boos have vanished and Thome has heard nothing but cheers. In 64 at-bats with the Indians since rejoining the team, Thome has hit .297 with three home runs and nine RBI.
Thome's return to Cleveland also gave the Indians a significant boost at the gate over the last month of the season. Despite the increase in attendance, and the fact that Thome has hit well and is again a hero to all in Cleveland, it's extremely doubtful that Thome will be back with the Indians in 2012.
Thome, now 41, said Friday he hasn't made up his mind on whether he will retire or come back for a 22nd season in the major leagues. He said he'll make that decision after the season, in consultation with his family. The Indians traded for Thome when DH Travis Hafner was hurt. Hafner is back, and he has one more year, at $13 million, left on his contract. So in all likelihood, Hafner, not Thome, will be the Indians' DH in 2012.
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