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updated: 7/31/2011 7:52 PM

New role in Thomas' future? Maybe

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  • Frank Thomas, considered the best hitter in White Sox history, poses with a statue of himself during an unveiling ceremony Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.

      Frank Thomas, considered the best hitter in White Sox history, poses with a statue of himself during an unveiling ceremony Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.
    Associated Press

 
 

Last winter Greg Walker had to do a lot of thinking before deciding to return for another year as White Sox hitting coach.

It has been a frustrating season for Walker, and the Sox' offense, so you have to wonder if he's coming back in 2012 -- assuming he's even wanted back.

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If this is it for Walker, how about Frank Thomas as the White Sox' next hitting coach?

On Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, Thomas was on hand for the unveiling of his life-size statue on the left-field concourse.

Thomas has too much respect for the classy Walker to openly campaign for his job, but the future Hall of Famer -- most likely a first-ballot choice in 2014 -- is certainly mulling over his options.

"We'll see," Thomas said when asked in general if he'd like to be a hitting coach. "One of these years, you never know. I'm happy right now. I'm getting to spend a lot of time with my kids, something I didn't get to do for 20 years. I'm getting 'me' time, but I am a little anxious to start doing something."

Thomas had his uniform No. 35 retired last year, and he got the follow-up statue Sunday because he is the best hitter in White Sox history.

You'd have to wonder if Thomas would have the patience to deal with all of the ups and downs that come with being a hitting coach, but the Sox do like having former players on their staff.

In time, maybe Thomas will emerge as a viable candidate.

"Who knows?" Thomas said. "I'm not saying what I want to do or would like to do. Right now I'm just happy to be a part of this organization. It's always great to come down and go into the locker room and see the guys. It just brings back so many memories.

"That's just a part of my life. I like to come in and say hello and help guys out because we had older guys who came in and helped us out throughout my years."

Thomas proceeded to discuss three of the White Sox' most newsworthy hitters:

•Adam Dunn: "I've talked to Adam a lot. He's a good guy, very, very good guy. He's going through a tremendous slump. It's part of the game. It won't be his last slump if he continues to play this game a long time.

"But he's never seen anything like this, no one else has. He's going to come out of it. Sooner or later, if it's not this year, next year he'll come out of it.

"Adam is a different type of hitter than me. Adam is a longball guy; he's a monster home run guy. With me, I was happy to get a single, so when I was going through those slumps I didn't mind punching the ball to right field or wherever else just to get a hit.

"I think he's got to start doing a little bit of that. I told him the other day, 'It's OK to punch in a single every now and then. If they want to shift on you, punch the ball through the shortstop. There's nothing wrong with it.'"

•Alex Rios: "I talked to Alex a lot. I spent a year-and-a-half with Alex (as teammates with in Toronto) and I know what the guy is capable of doing. Right now, he's fighting himself. For me, I would change that stance.

"We talked about it the other day. There's nothing wrong with going in the cage and messing around with it. We saw one of the most successful players to ever play this game, Cal Ripken, he had a new stance every week.

"I told Alex, the bottom line is hitting the baseball. Go in the cage and figure something out, Get comfortable, because he's not comfortable right now."

•Paul Konerko: "Paulie's had a great last three years here. Some guys find it in their late 20s, Paulie's finding it in his mid-30s. Bottom line is, he's getting it done.

"He's having fun and he's comfortable. More power to him. If he keeps this up, he's going to be out there on that concourse (with a statue), too."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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