Thome looks to become the latest member of the 500-home run club on Friday night when the White Sox open a three-game home series against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels.
Thome hit his 499th homer in Chicago’s 7-4 victory Wednesday over Cleveland, the team he spent his first 12 seasons with.
“It’s been pretty awesome,” Thome said. “I guess it’s kind of reality now. It’s getting close.”
He will face Angels right-hander Bartolo Colon for the first time. Thome and Colon were teammates with the Indians from 1997-2002.
Thome, who could be the first player wearing a White Sox uniform to reach 500, said he will reveal Friday what he will offer the fan who catches or retrieves the ball that marks his milestone homer.
“There are some things that we’ve talked about,” Thome said. “It will be neat. It will be fun for the fans. We’ve come up with some really good ideas. Hopefully, it will happen here. The White Sox fans deserve it.”
Wednesday’s homer was Thome’s eighth in 24 games and 27th of the season. The 37-year-old has battled injuries throughout his career, making one trip to the disabled list this year.
“Each and every at-bat is different. That’s what makes it so tough. Hitting a home run is not an easy thing to do, especially when people want you to do it and you’re trying to do it,” Thome said. “It puts in perspective for me all the great players that have done this. How hard it is to get to this level.”
While Thome may make history, Friday’s game itself has little meaning other than the Angels’ pursuit of baseball’s best record.
Chicago (62-84) is fighting to avoid the worst record in the majors just two years after winning the World Series. Los Angeles (86-60), meanwhile, is coasting to its third AL West title in four seasons. The Angels trail Boston by 2 1/2 games for the best record.
Wednesday’s victory ended a three-game skid for the White Sox, who could be headed for their first last-place finish since 1989.
The Angels had a six-game road winning streak snapped Thursday with a 3-0 loss to Baltimore.
Colon (6-6, 6.72 ERA) came off the 15-day disabled list Sunday after missing 45 games with right elbow irritation. He last pitched July 23 against Oakland when he gave up four runs and four hits in one inning of a 12-6 loss.
The 2005 AL Cy Young winner will be taking Ervin Santana’s spot in the rotation with Santana shifting to the bullpen. Colon, who has pitched only nine total innings in his last three starts, has allowed five runs or more in six of 16 appearances this season.
He pitched well in his only start this year against the White Sox, giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings on May 6 in a 4-3, 10-inning loss. Colon, who spent the 2003 season with Chicago, is 9-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 18 starts against them.
Former Angel Darin Erstad is batting .341 (14-for-41) against Colon.
Jose Contreras (8-16, 5.91), tied for the AL lead in losses, hopes to avoid becoming the first White Sox pitcher to lose 17 games in a season since Rich Dotson in 1986. Contreras, though, is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in his last three starts after losing his previous nine.
He didn’t receive a decision Saturday against Minnesota despite allowing seven runs - four earned - and a career-high 13 hits in five innings of Chicago’s 8-7 victory.
Contreras usually pitches effectively against the Angels, going 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven career regular-season starts, including 1-1 with a 2.92 ERA in two outings this season.