Carroll County Times

Orioles soak up Thome's postseason experience

Late September has arrived, playoff spots are up for grabs, and several teams are battling for the pennant.

Jim Thome has been in this situation many times before.

The Orioles' designated hitter has played in 67 playoff games over his 22-season career, for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Minnesota Twins, and now is contributing to Baltimore's postseason push. Thome has played in more postseason games than any player on Baltimore's roster.

Thome has 17 home runs and 37 RBIs during his postseason career, with a .217 batting average. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has managed against Thome in the past and said he knows what makes him a tough hitter to face.

"You can't stay in one place and one pattern on him," Showalter said. "He will make an adjustment on you."

Thome said the best way to succeed late in the season is to just avoid the pressure.

"I think the key is not to worry," Thome said. "You get into this time of year, you can't be a hero every at-bat. You can't be the hero every night. You want to think it, but it just doesn't happen."

Thome returned last weekend from a long stint on the disabled list and provides Baltimore with an experienced playoff veteran. Since recovering from his herniated disk, Thome hit a go-ahead RBI double on Sunday and a solo homer to tie the game on Wednesday.

"It's good to kind of join in and be a part of it, no doubt," Thome said. "You try to have good at-bats [after] not playing for a while."

Traded from Philadelphia on June 30, Thome is batting .253 with three homers and eight RBIs in 23 games with the Orioles.

Thome is one of several players who was not on the Orioles' roster on Opening Day, along with Nate McLouth, Lew Ford, Manny Machado and others.

"The unique thing of our club is all the guys we've brought up at a certain point during the year have stepped up and have played a big part," Thome said. "And that's big. ... When you get guys that step up, like we did [Wednesday], hopefully that momentum will carry us on."

Showalter has commended Thome on several occasions for the advice he gives younger players and the leadership role he has taken on the team.

"One thing Jimmy does is he's very receptive to people asking and he's not going to sit on a fence," Showalter said. "He's going to tell you. That's another benefit of having a guy like him around."

Thome made it to the World Series with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997, but has only made it past the Division Series twice since then. Thome has said throughout his time with the Orioles that he enjoys being on the team, and hopes that the younger players will get to experience the postseason.

"It's been fun," Thome said. "We'll continue to keep battling, do our preparation, as we do every day, and roll the dice and see where we're at in the end. I think that's the attitude."