He may be mired in the midst of an injury-plagued season, but for one night Minnesota Twins designated hitter Jim Thome made fans forget all about it. The 40-year-old veteran hit two home runs on Monday, making him just the eighth player in baseball history to hit 600 in his career.
It had been 11 days since Thome last homered, but he quickly erased any doubt as to whether he would reach the milestone. He hit his 599th career homer off of Detroit Tigers starter Rick Porcello in the sixth inning, and then followed it up with number 600 just an inning later.
"Hitting home runs can be very difficult," Thome told the Associated Press. "You sit in bed at night and you think about how's it going to be, how are you going to do this? It goes back to trying to slow yourself down and not being too antsy, too hyped up. It's just a great night."
In a world where any amount of power raises suspicions of steroid use, Thome's prolific home run hitting has gone largely unquestioned. He broke through as a member of the Cleveland Indians alongside sluggers such as Manny Ramirez and Juan Gonzalez, and played there for 11 seasons. He has since played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and finally the Twins.
Thome has also become a favorite player of almost everyone who has played the game. Teammates, fans and opponents have all lauded him as one of the nicest guys in the league.
"He is a role model for all of us, he is like every one of us would like to be," Twins reliever Matt Capps told ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian.