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updated: 1/24/2010 4:10 PM

Will Sox bring Thome home? Signs point to 'no'

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  • Ozzie Guillen

       Ozzie Guillen
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Before coming down and taking questions from fans at SoxFest on Saturday morning, Ozzie Guillen had breakfast in the White Sox' sprawling suite at the Palmer House Hilton.

"It was free," Guillen said.

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The Sox' manager had a lot to chew on besides his Corn Flakes. Even though Guillen has been fervently talking up his plan to rotate designated hitters this season among Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin and even Omar Vizquel, he isn't quite ready to cut ties with Jim Thome.

The White Sox' regular DH the past four seasons and currently a free agent, Thome made a pitch to return to the South Side on Wednesday.

"I think everyone knows I love Chicago," said Thome, who batted .249 with 23 home runs and 74 RBI in 107 games last season before being traded to the Dodgers on Aug. 31. "It's a great city, the organization here is great, they've treated me great here over the last four years. Jerry (Reinsdorf) is a class act. All through the organization, it's been a pleasure to play here and be a part of it. "My door is open, all you have to do is call me. We'll see what happens."

There is no bigger Thome fan than Guillen, and it's his call on whether the 39-year-old DH returns or likely signs with the division rival Minnesota Twins or possibly the Tampa Bay Rays.

Guillen appears to be leaning toward moving on without Thome, and he'd like to make a decision before heading back home to Miami on Sunday.

It's a difficult decision, given Thome's 18 years of excellence on and off the field. But it's not a decision Guillen is afraid to make.

"That's the reason I manage the ballclub," said Guillen, who hugged Thome after every White Sox victory the past four seasons before heading back to clubhouse. "We've talked about it and we're still thinking about it, if Thome is the right fit for the ballclub or what we should do.

"I said a couple days ago, sometimes when you think with your heart you make the wrong decision. In baseball, unfortunately, you have to think with your brains."

Guillen's brain is likely sending the following message: Stick with the new plan.

If Thome does come back, it would be in a platoon role.

Against right-handed pitchers last year, Thome batted .262 with 18 home runs and 55 RBI while striking out 91 times in 271 at-bats. Against left-handers, he batted just .209 with 5 HRs, 22 RBI and 32 strikeouts in 91 at-bats.

"The only reason I'm thinking about this and the conversation (I had) with Jimmy is I don't know how many at-bats I'm going to be able to give him,'' Guillen said. "It's not fair to Jim Thome and the ballclub. I'm not going to lie to Jimmy and say, 'We're going to bring you here, you can play every day,' then all of a sudden I change my mind.

"I want to walk into the clubhouse with my head up. I don't want to walk into the clubhouse and try to avoid Jimmy because he's not playing."

Being a huge Thome fan is the biggest sticking point for Guillen.

"I wish I hated this guy," Guillen said. "I wish I could say to (general manager) Kenny (Williams), 'I don't want to have him in my brain; I don't want to talk about him.' But this guy is so special to us, that's why we're still talking about bringing him back.''

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