Twins' Thome the eighth player to hit 600th career homer

Updated: 2011-08-17 07:56

(China Daily)

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 Twins' Thome the eighth player to hit 600th career homer

Minnesota Twins' Jim Thome swings for his 600th career home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday, in Detroit. Thome's home run was a three-run shot. Duane Burleson / Associated Press

Twins' Thome the eighth player to hit 600th career homer

DETROIT, Michigan - Minnesota Twins slugger Jim Thome became the eighth Major League Baseball player to hit 600 home runs on Monday, belting two in a 9-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Thome, 40, hit his 599th career homer, a two-run blast to left-center field, off Detroit's Rick Porcello in the sixth inning, in his third at-bat.

It traveled an estimated 412 feet and gave the Twins a 5-3 lead.

He came to the plate again in the seventh and knocked a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Schlereth over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, circling the bases as fans in Detroit gave him a standing ovation.

The Detroit scoreboard lit up with a message congratulating Thome on the feat and his teammates came out to meet him at home plate.

"It's an unbelievable night, obviously," Thome said. "You dream about it, but when it finally happens it's kind of surreal."

Of the eight major league players to reach 600 homers in a career, the most recent was Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, on August 4, 2010.

Thome, who has battled injuries during a difficult season for the Twins, has toiled toward the milestone with relatively little fanfare.

He joined an elite club that includes Rodriguez, who has 626 homers, record-holder Barry Bonds with 762, Hank Aaron with 755, Babe Ruth with 714, Willie Mays with 660, Ken Griffey Jr with 630 and Sammy Sosa with 609.

Thome became the oldest player to hit a 600th career homer. Sosa previously held that mark at 38 years, 220 days, reaching the milestone in 2007.

Of the elite group, Rodriguez, Bonds and Sosa have all faced doping suspicions, a cloud that hasn't touched Thome.

"I thought of my mother," said Thome, who was also greeted at home plate by his father, wife and children. "She must've been looking down upon us. And being there with us. I know she's here in heart and spirit."

When Thome hit No 600, however, it briefly looked as if Detroit left-fielder Delmon Young might have a chance to make a play on the ball.

But Young, who was traded from Minnesota to Detroit earlier in the day, could only watch the ball go into the Tigers' bullpen.

"The only thing I'm really going to miss is not seeing Jim get 600, unless he hits it here," Young said as he discussed his trade before the game, but didn't have to miss it after all.

Since he joined the Twins before last season, Thome has been popular with fans and teammates.

He hit 25 home runs last season in just 276 at-bats.

This season has been more difficult, as Thome battled injuries to his toe, oblique and quadriceps.

His milestone homer was just his 11th of the season in his 185th at-bat.

Thome's last homer before Monday was on Aug 4. He has hit at least 20 home runs in 17 of his past 18 seasons, the only exception coming in 2005, when he played just 59 games for Philadelphia and hit seven homers.

He was rejuvenated by a move to the White Sox, and hit 42 home runs in 2006.

Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 08/17/2011 page24)

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