The Cleveland Indians have reportedly slammed the door on any potential reunion between the club and its all-time home run leader Jim Thome. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the team will not be committing a roster spot to a designated hitter.
Sources: #Indians no longer pursuing Thome, do not want to commit roster spot to a DH. Thome healthy, working out, open to other clubs.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 7, 2013
As WFNY’s Jon wrote earlier this offseason, Thome, 42, appears closer to the end of his career. Last season his ISO (slugging minus batting average—a measure of raw power) dropped below .200 for the first time in his career. He hurt his back while playing first base, and managed only 186 plate appearances on the season because of it.
In turn, the Tribe will likely use a DH-by-committee approach, which utilizes the versatility of players like Mike Aviles and Mark Reynolds while using Lou Marson as a back-up catcher, giving multiple players — Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall — days off in the field while keeping their bats in the lineup. This move, while capping the potential overall slugging percentage of the lineup, avoiding Thome does allow the team to remain flexible and persue other options in the event the committee approach does bear fruit.
Upon Thome’s retirement, if the player does decide to call it a career, the Indians have plans on erecting a statue in his honor. It will stand on the spot where the slugger’s legendary 511-foot home run landed in July of 1999.
[Related: Jim Thome: Slugger Gets Closure in Cleveland]