BALTIMORE - Jim Thome is no stranger to being traded, particularly in-season. Saturday's deal that sent Thome from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Orioles marked the fourth time Thome has been traded during his career, and the third time during a season.
Thome went 0 for 4 in his Orioles debut Sunday, striking out twice and grounding out twice in a 6-2 loss to Cleveland, but said before the game he likes the spot he is in on the team.
"These guys, they've had a great year and I think they've done some special things and hopefully we can continue to do that," said Thome, who started as the team's designated hitter and batted fifth. "And I'm excited, excited to be here. ... Obviously, I think they put me in a real good situation here."
Thome hit .242 for the Phillies this season with five home runs and 15 RBIs. However, Thome spent time on the disabled list with a lower back strain and struggled to find playing time when he returned.
"Unfortunately I wasn't able to play as much first base as I wanted to or the Phillies wanted," Thome said. "And that put them in a tough situation and I understood that. Then interleague happened and I was able to get some consistent at-bats. It was one of them things where it kind of made me really realize how much I did love the game and how much I did want to play and get those at-bats every day."
Throughout his career, Thome has hit 18 home runs at Camden Yards in 67 at-bats. He also has hit two onto Eutaw Street.
Thome is tied for seventh all-time with 609 career home runs, and his next homer will move him ahead of Sammy Sosa on the list.
"It's always been a very good park to hit in but ultimately you've got to go out and have good at-bats," Thome said. "These guys have a lot of good hitters so hopefully I can come here and contribute and help them with what they've done and try to fit in as best I can to what they are trying to do."
Thome said he is impressed by what the Orioles have done this season, and that he hopes to contribute on an every-day basis.
"I think the positive thing is Baltimore has hung in there and they've played very well in a very good division," Thome said. "I think at some point I'll sit down with Buck [Showalter], I'll get a feel for what he's thinking but I expect to come to the ballpark and play every day. Can I do that? I mean, realistically, probably not. But I think the mentality every day is to come and be ready."
ROSTER MOVES: To make room for Thome on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned outfielder Xavier Avery to Class-AAA Norfolk before Sunday's game. Avery played in all three games while he was with the Orioles, going 3 for 12. The Orioles also optioned pitcher Tommy Hunter to Norfolk after his rough outing on Saturday, and brought up Miguel Gonzalez from Norfolk to fill his role as long-reliever in the bullpen on Sunday. Gonzalez pitched 4 1-3 innings on Sunday, giving up one run on four hits and striking out five. It was the longest outing by an Orioles reliever this season.
BETEMIT'S HOT STREAK: Wilson Betemit extended his hitting streak to 11 games on Sunday with a single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Betemit is batting .472 (17 for 36) during the streak, raising his season batting average from .238 to .274.
ALMOST THERE: With one more win, the Orioles will enter the All-Star break with a winning record for just the second time since 1998, and the first time since 2005. In '05, the Orioles entered the break with a 47-40 record.