Jim Thome On Verge of Return to Orioles


The Baltimore Orioles could have been in deep trouble when right fielder Nick Markakis went down earlier this month with a thumb injury that will cost him the rest of the season. The Orioles began poking around the league for a spare outfielder, but found a suitable replacement toiling at Triple-A Norfolk.

Endy Chavez was supposed to be a significant piece of the 2012 O’s ballclub, but played so poorly that he was removed from the 40-man roster and shipped out to the minor leagues. Chavez didn’t do much at Norfolk, either, and was not part of the initial wave of players brought up on September 1. But Chavez has made the most of his return to Baltimore, hitting .438 (7-for-16) in five games since coming back.

July 27, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Jim Thome (25) at bat in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Athletics defeated the Orioles 14 – 9. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

But while Chavez is hot right now, he owns a career OPS of .680, so it’s fairly doubtful he’s any kind of real answer. Fortunately, it looks as if designated hitter Jim Thome could return as early as this weekend.

Thome, 41, hasn’t played since injuring his back shortly after coming to Baltimore via trade back in June. He managed just 18 games with the O’s, but connected for a pair of home runs and .746 OPS in 79 plate appearances. It was feared his season and career were possibly over. Instead, he may be coming back at just the right time.

Chris Davis has been handling the bulk of the DH duties while Thome has been out, but Davis has the ability to play the corner outfield spots as well. While Davis doesn’t have near the defensive prowess that Markakis or Chavez offer, it would be a way to keep both Davis and Thome in the lineup together.