MINNEAPOLIS – The four years Jim Thome spent with the White Sox will always hold a special place in his heart.
“Those guys are like brothers to me,” Thome, now a member of the rival Minnesota Twins, said on Tuesday of his former teammates. “They really are.”
Brothers? Yes. But it stops there, especially when Thome was asked about the “Twins way,” and how year-after-year – minus a nice little World Series trophy in 2005 – Minnesota continues to be a thorn in the Sox’ side.
“This has been a lot of fun watching guys go about their business, the way they go about their business,” Thome said. “The way our guys play the game, fundamentally how they go about it. Being on the other side for a number of years you always kind of look at the Twins and say, ‘Man, they play it the right way, they do it the right way.’ And now being here you kind of see it. You see it over the long haul.”
Asked for a more detailed explanation, Thome said with a laugh, “Well we can’t give all the secrets.”
What he would say was, “You look at it [in spring training], and they’re out there early morning getting their work in. They go to hit, but it seems like they’re taking groundballs all day long.”
Nice cute little story, but not really the kind of advice that will exactly help the team on the South Side that has spent 2010 putting the fun back in dysfunctional.
When the Sox pitch, they can’t hit. When they hit, they can’t pitch. No. 2 hitter Gordon Beckham is now in the No. 8 spot. While leadoff hitter Juan Pierre has gone from atop the order, to the bottom and back on top. Bobby Jenks has sort of lost his closer role, sort of, and the man trying to will this group to some sort of turnaround before the season is over by Memorial Day? Ozzie Guillen is still Ozzie Guillen.
“To me, it’s easy to say I don’t think this team is that good, but no, I think we’re good,” Guillen said. “We have the team to compete. We should be playing good every day and right now they aren’t doing it. I wish I could say, ‘You know what I was wrong.’ But I’m not going to say I was wrong until I was very wrong.”
Guillen hopes it doesn’t reach that point, so for now he keeps applying the band-aids.
The latest is with trying to get Beckham up and running. Considering he is believed to be the future of the club, that might be a good idea.
“Yeah, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve said you’ve just got to go out there and play, and screw everything else,” Beckham said. “It’s still a game and I’m confident. I’ve had to remind myself that I have done it and I will do it again. It’s a matter of time in my opinion, and whether or not anyone else believes that I don’t really care. I know at some point it will happen for me and that point is coming soon. I’m not worried about it.”
The latest hole to spring on the pitching side of things is Jenks and what to do with his struggles.
All Guillen would commit to is that it seems to be a closer-by-committee situation now and Jenks is a part of that committee.
“It depends who is the hitter,” Guillen said. “That’s all I can tell you. I’m going to leave that open right now with a few choices because I think we have to get to the point to, our ballclub to be the best club we want out there, Bobby has to be our closer.
“It’s not a punishment. It’s not about losing his job. It’s just about putting him back what he was. He’s a little off right now. As soon as he’s back what he was, he has his job back.”
So the Sox press on.
Meanwhile, the Twins have a new ballpark and a new attitude. No longer the little engine that could, but the engine that should.
Thome’s not telling, that’s for sure.