Jim Thome’s final season in Philadelphia was marked by injuries. On Monday night, he’ll return there for the first time since reviving his career.
Thome leads the Chicago White Sox into Citizens Bank Ballpark to take on the Phillies in the start of a three-game interleague series.
This is the first meeting between the teams since a November 2005 trade that sent Thome to the White Sox (27-32) in exchange for Aaron Rowand as part of a four-player deal.
Coming off a career-high 52 homers with Cleveland under current Phillies manager Charlie Manuel in 2002, Thome signed as a free agent with Philadelphia, where he continued to put up big numbers in his first two seasons there. But a back injury and season-ending elbow surgery limited him just seven homers with 30 RBIs in 59 games in 2005. Those factors, combined with the emergence of Ryan Howard, made Thome expendable.
After hitting 42 homers with 109 RBIs for Chicago last season, Thome has spent time on the disabled list this year with a strained rib cage and has just eight homers and 23 RBIs, but said he’s looking forward to playing in Philadelphia again.
“For me, it was a special time,” Thome said. “When I left Cleveland, a lot of those people - including the fans - took me in when I first got there. A lot of my memories are fond. They treated me very well.”
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen plans to have Thome start two games at first during this trip, although he has concerns about rustiness and injuries.
Rowand, the starting center fielder on the White Sox’s 2005 championship team, played just 109 games with the Phillies last season due to a broken nose and a broken ankle. He’s bounced back this year by hitting a team-leading .325.
The White Sox snapped a season high-tying skid five-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over Houston on Sunday behind Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko. Buehrle pitched eight strong innings for his 100th career win while Konerko had a season-high three hits, including a homer and two RBIs.
Konerko is hitting .478 (11-for-23) in his last seven games, and has raised his average 28 points to .246.
After alternating losses and wins in his previous three starts, Javier Vazquez (3-4, 4.13 ERA) takes the mound for Chicago in Monday’s opener. The right-hander gave up four runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
Vazquez, who played with Montreal from 1998-2003 and Arizona in 2005, is 10-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 22 career starts against Philadelphia. The 10 wins are the most he’s posted against any opponent.
Adam Eaton (6-4, 5.99) will make his first career appearance against Chicago for the Phillies and try to equal his win total from last year. The right-hander, who was 7-4 in an injury-shortened 2006 season with Texas, gave up two runs and five hits over six innings of a 4-2 win over the NL East-leading New York Mets on Wednesday,
In his last four starts since May 20, Eaton is 3-1 with a 4.95 ERA. At home this season, though, he’s 2-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts.
The Phillies (32-31) return home after losing two of three to Kansas City, capped by a 17-5 defeat on Sunday. Shane Victorino and Howard each homered for Philadelphia, which allowed 17 runs for the first time in just over five years.