Indians’ Thome Could Return Monday
CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland first baseman Jim Thome will begin a brief rehabilitation stint in the minor league playoffs Saturday and could rejoin the Indians by Monday.
Thome, whose right hand was broken by a pitch from Tampa Bay’s Wilson Alvarez on Aug. 7, will join Double-A Akron for its playoff game at Harrisburg, Pa., on Saturday.
Harrisburg, the affiliate of the Montreal Expos, suddenly must face a lineup that includes the AL’s starting first baseman in the All-Star game. The series is tied 1-1.
Thome took batting practice for the second straight day Friday and felt no pain.
``He got jammed inside a couple of times and just kept going, so that’s a good sign,″ hitting coach Charlie Manuel said.
Indians manager Mike Hargrove said Thome could even return to the lineup on Sunday, but that it was a long shot. Thome has been so anxious to come back that he’s been watching pitchers warm up in the bullpen to get a look at live pitching.
The coaching staff is confident that Thome, , would get his timing back in about 10 games or 50 at-bats.
``That’s time enough for him to be ready for the playoffs,″ Manuel said.
Hargrove stopped short of saying rookie Richie Sexson would play every day in left field or as the DH when Thome returns. Sexson was batting .341 with eight homers and 27 RBIs before Friday night’s game against the White Sox, playing his way onto the postseason roster while Thome has been injured.
``I’m not prepared to say that Richie is going to play every day right now when Jimmy comes back,″ said Hargrove, who must get at-bats for Sexson, Brian Giles and Cecil Fielder when Thome returns.
Thome will DH in the minors and start out as a DH when he returns to the Indians, easing back into his spot at first base.