07/01/12 6:30 PM ET
Veteran Thome 'excited' to join Orioles
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"These guys, they've had a great year and I think they've done some special things," Thome said of the Orioles, who acquired him from the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in exchange for a pair of Minor Leaguers. "Hopefully, we can continue to do that. And I'm excited, excited to be here."
Thome mentioned the word "excited" several times in the first few minutes of his introductory press conference and -- despite the hectic nature of his arrival -- still showcased some of the charm and friendliness that has made him one of baseball's ultimate good guys over the course of his 22-year career.
"It's going to be valuable," Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said of the addition of Thome, whom he befriended when both played for the Twins and spoke with on Saturday when news of the trade first broke.
"There's a lot of people that can learn from him, including myself. Everyone in this locker room can learn from him. I've already told some guys the way he goes about his business, he'll probably be the first one in the clubhouse. ... He's moving the whole time he's here, he's doing exercises to stay loose. During the game, he'll have his at-bats and go to the cage and do more exercises in between his at-bats -- and he's just non-stop working so that he can play this game still."
Thome owns a career batting line of .277/.402/.556 and has hit 609 home runs, tied for seventh on the all-time list. He entered Sunday hitting .242 with a .338 on-base percentage and five home runs and 15 RBIs, and thanked the Phillies organization for the opportunity to come back to the American League and play with the Orioles.
"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 [Play] happened and I was able to get some consistent at-bats. It was one of [those] 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.
"I'm here, I'm excited and I'm looking forward to meeting the guys and trying to fit in, again, I say that, to what they are doing. They've been successful."
Adding Thome will give the Orioles more depth while dealing with injuries to left-handed hitters Nick Johnson, Nick Markakis and Endy Chavez, along with slugging right-handed hitter Nolan Reimold -- who is likely out for the remainder of the season. He entered Sunday with 18 home runs and 45 RBIs in 67 career games at Camden Yards, and in a three-game series in Baltimore last month, Thome was 6-for-13 with a homer, two doubles and four RBIs. Thome went 0-for-4 in Sunday's contest.
"I think at some point I'll sit down with [manager Buck Showalter], I'll get a feel for what he's thinking. But I expect to come to the ballpark and play every day," Thome said. "Can I do that? I mean, realistically, probably not. But I think the mentality every day is to come and be ready, [even on] those days that I don't play. I have had a little bit of experience pinch-hitting, but also [I will also] try to help [on] those days I don't play, as well, and be a good teammate and help out in that regard. ... I look forward to that, too."
"He's that superstar that acts just like everyone else," Hardy said. "He's friends with everyone. He picks up. If you're going bad, he's someone that will talk to you and try to get you out of it. He's the perfect teammate."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.