Thome ties, passes McGwire on homer list
Twins slugger rips Nos. 583 and 584, now ninth all-time
MINNEAPOLIS -- On a weekend where the Twins had gathered many of their all-time greats to celebrate the team's 50th season in Minnesota, Jim Thome delivered a performance on Saturday afternoon that moved him up on a list of baseball's elite.Thome blasted career home runs Nos. 583 and 584 on Saturday afternoon in a 12-4 victory against the Rangers, passing Mark McGwire for ninth place on the all-time home run list. The Twins' designated hitter led off the third inning by taking an 0-1 pitch from Rangers starter Colby Lewis deep into the upper deck in right-center field to tie McGwire at 583 homers. The distance was estimated at 449 feet, making it the longest homer in Target Field's brief history. One inning later, Thome came up to the plate with two runners on and two outs. On a 3-2 pitch from Lewis, Thome belted a shot into the bullpens in left-center field. The three-run homer was Thome's 20th of the year and earned him a curtain call from the cheering home crowd. "Thome, what a day," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It never ceases to amaze us. He just keeps going up there and whacking the ball. It's Babe Ruth all over again, passing a lot of people." It was the 46th multihomer game of Thome's career and his second of the season. Both times that Thome has hit two home runs in a game this season, he's done so to take over sole possession of a spot on the all-time list. Thome tied and passed Harmon Killebrew for 10th place when he belted homers No. 573 and No. 574 on July 3 against the Rays at Target Field. Next on the all-time list is Frank Robinson with 586. Thome reached in all four of his plate appearances Saturday. In addition to the home runs, Thome also walked twice. It brought his career number of walks to 1,668 -- moving him past Frank Thomas (1,667) for sole possession of ninth place on the all-time list. But while Thome continues to deliver memorable performances that move him up on the prestigious home run list, his primary focus after Saturday's win was the impact that the homers had on his club. "You respect it and it's very humbling," Thome said of passing players on the home run list. "But I think the main goal right now is where we're at as a team -- if you can do something that helps your club win and be a part of that. It's not about a single guy that's done this or has done this in his career. It's about all of us coming together. "It's a neat thing and when it's over with or the season is over with, you'll look back and look at it and go, 'Man, that was pretty special.'" In just 237 at-bats in his first season with the Twins, Thome has a team-leading 20 homers. He took over sole possession of the team lead with his first long ball of the day, passing Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau, who has been out since July 7 with a concussion. Thome signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal in January in hopes of securing the World Series title that has eluded him over the parts of 19 previous seasons he's spent in the big leagues. With Kubel set to be the Twins' primary DH, Thome signed on to be a bench player in Minnesota -- one who would occasionally see time in the DH spot. But since signing with Minnesota, Thome has certainly provided a big lift. Along with his 20 home runs, he's batted .270 with 49 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage. Could Thome, who turned 40 on Aug. 27, have envisioned this type of season for himself? "I didn't know, to be honest," Thome said. "When I went to [the Dodgers] last September, I was a pinch-hitter. When I wasn't getting any calls this winter, I really didn't know. When the Twins had called, I knew about their club and I knew they had Kubel. Without any expectations, I just wanted to be healthy. I think that was the main thing. If I played, then great." Injuries to players such as Morneau have certainly provided Thome with more at-bats than expected. But the Twins, particularly Gardenhire, have been cautious not to overuse the veteran slugger who has battled back problems the past few years. Thome has managed to stay in good health this season, besides a few ailments including some recent back and hip stiffness that kept him out of the lineup earlier this week. And he credits Gardenhire for helping him to stay healthy and not overusing him, which has perhaps led to this standout season. "This has been a new year for me because I'm used to playing every day," Thome said. "In the past, you get to September and you're playing every day. Your body does wear down. So maybe it has helped out."
Twins take cautious approach, sit Valencia
MINNEAPOLIS -- After playing in 38 straight games, Twins third baseman Danny Valencia was not in the lineup Saturday after leaving Friday night's contest in the seventh inning with a tight right hamstring.Matt Tolbert got the start at third base Saturday. Valencia, who said that he first felt the tightness during Thursday night's 13-inning loss to the Tigers, was getting treatment on the hamstring Saturday. Valencia told manager Ron Gardenhire he could have started against the Rangers on Saturday, but Gardenhire said that they'd wait at least one more day before returning Valencia to the lineup. "He should be fine," Gardenhire said. "He said he wanted to go out and try it today, but no sense in that. That's silly." As for other injuries, Jason Kubel (bruised left wrist) was taking more swings on the field before Saturday's game and said he might be available to pinch-hit. Gardenhire said that Kubel will definitely be ready to play on Sunday. Left-hander Brian Fuentes (stiff back) still appears to be a couple days away from being available out of the bullpen. Gardenhire didn't have an exact update, but said he hadn't seen Fuentes much on the field during batting practice, meaning it's at least another day before he can pitch.
Prospect Revere to join club Sunday
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will add some outfield depth Sunday when prospect Ben Revere joins the club.Revere's season had appeared to be finished Aug. 3 when he was hit by a pitch near his right eye, causing a fracture in the orbital bone. But the 22-year-old outfielder healed faster than expected, returning to Double-A New Britain on Aug. 27 and getting right back into an offensive groove. And now Revere is going to be bringing his speed, versatility and his well-known smile to the Majors. Manager Ron Gardenhire announced after Saturday's 12-4 win over Texas that Minnesota had selected Revere's contract. To make room for Revere on the 40-man roster, the Twins will have to make a corresponding roster move before Sunday's game. "He'll come in off the bench, as a fifth outfielder, pinch-runner, all of the above," Gardenhire said. Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and one of the club's top prospects, Revere has twice been selected as the Twins' Minor League Player of the Year -- both in 2008 and '09. Since returning to the Rock Cats' lineup on Aug. 27, Revere has gone 13-for-34 at the plate. He is hitting .305 with 36 stolen bases in 94 games for the Rock Cats this season and holds a career .328 batting average with 146 stolen bases in the Minor Leagues. Before Saturday's game, Gardenhire had expressed his need for help in the outfield. "I need protection in the outfield," Gardenhire said. "I think we've seen that enough already, especially as you're going along in the game just like the other night when I end up putting a DH in the game as an outfielder. We don't need that. We should have another player and it shouldn't be an infielder, in a playoff race." Revere spent most of Spring Training with the club in big league camp and he left a strong impression on the coaching staff. An impression that led to this callup for Revere and an opportunity for him to help out in a pennant race. "Liked him immediately," Gardenhire said. "How can you not like him? He's got that smile and he comes to play every day. He can do a lot of things. He's working really hard. He took a big shot in the face this year. He's bounced back from that and came back swinging. There's not too much not to like about this young man."
Twins left-hander Jose Mijares threw a bullpen session on Saturday afternoon. Mijares is still working his way back from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. His progress was set back a day when he needed to have a toenail removed, manager Ron Gardenhire said, but Mijares could be getting closer to returning. ... Joe Mauer was given the day off Saturday. Drew Butera was behind the plate, as he is the personal catcher for starter Carl Pavano, and Jim Thome was given the start at designated hitter. "Mauer is basically just beat to crap, 13 innings [Thursday] and 18 foul tips [Friday] off the shoulder," Gardenhire said. Mauer is expected to be back in the lineup for Sunday's series finale.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.