Notes from spring training: There's talk of a Thome return to Twins


Jim Thome during his time with the Twins. Currently unemployed, there's talk he could rejoin the team this season.

Photo: Gail Burton, Associated Press

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FORT MYERS, FLA. — Free agent and future Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome, whose 612 homers are seventh on the all-time list, is looking for a job. The Twins are looking for some punch off the bench.

It's not far-fetched to think the two could reunite.

The Twins had a conversation with Thome's camp about a month ago, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. While there hasn't been recent contact, the Twins would like to have him back if they can work things out.

Thome played 179 games with the Twins from the start of the 2010 season through August 2011, batting .266 with 37 homers and 99 RBI before he was traded to Cleveland.

"There's been conversations off and on, but I haven't talked to [Twins General Manager Terry Ryan] in a while about it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If something happened like that it would be wonderful.''

Thome, 42, is working out in Arizona, hoping to get another chance. He told last week that he was serious about continuing his career.

"My plan is to kind of stay in shape and see what happens," Thome said. "If a team calls for me, mentally, I want to know I'm ready to go."

Gardenhire said last week that he would like some thump off the bench. Thome could provide that as a pinch-hitter and occasional starter at designated hitter.

"I know we want a little more something off the bench instead of two utility guys and a backup catcher,'' Gardenhire said.

The article indicated that Thome desired a guaranteed roster spot, which might scare clubs off.

Worley takes a whirl

Gardenhire says Vance Worley "looks like a gunslinger out there," and the new Twins righthander admits he thinks that way, too. As he made his spring debut Monday with two scoreless innings, Worley said he told himself that results didn't matter, that establishing command of the plate was the important thing with Opening Day still five weeks off. But that's not the only reason he stuck primarily with fastballs.

"It's just a matter of getting things ready to go. But still, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, 'Compete, compete, compete,' " Worley said. "If I get beat on something that's not good, it's going to tick me off. So I probably won't throw something that's going to get me beat."

He's not sure his other pitches are ready, such as the cutter that Travis Snider lashed for a double in the first. But his cutters got better as he worked. "It's a pitch that's pretty hard to control, especially after not throwing it for five months now," said Worley, who showed no ill effects from last September's surgery to remove bone chips. "I'll take it."

On deck

The Twins travel to Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday to play the Toronto Blue Jays. Righthander Mike Pelfrey will make his first appearance for his new team. Lefthander Ricky Romero is scheduled to start for Toronto. Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who has recovered from a sore right calf, will make his spring training debut, batting fifth.

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