CLEVELAND — You can change the name on the front of the uniform and the naming rights of the ballpark, but the results stay the same: When Jim Thome comes to Progressive Field — or Jacobs Field as he did when he played with the Indians — good things happen for the burly designated hitter.
While the results weren’t what Thome wanted for his Chicago White Sox, he still had a big day and still enjoys batting at the place where they used to cheer him.
“I love coming here,” Thome said. “There’s a lot of special memories. A lot of special times. I’ll never forget it.”
Though Chicago fell 10-8 to the Indians in Monday’s season opener, it wasn’t for lack of effort from the Peoria, Ill., native. Thome, who hit the longest home run by an Indian in Jacobs Field history — a 511-foot shot off Kansas City’s Don Wengert — when he was here, was back to work on opening day blasting two two-run home runs that traveled a combined 834 feet.
“I played here for a long time and had some great memories,” said Thome, who hit a
club-record 334 homers for the Tribe. “It was sad to see (the) Jacobs Field name go. We had a special thing when I was here.”
Thome christened the newly named Progressive Field with a 414-foot shot to right field in the first inning and brought the game back to within reach for the Sox in the third with a 420-foot shot to dead center.
It marked the 41st time Thome has had a multihomer game and the first time since 1991 that someone from the White Sox hit two home runs on opening day. The last was Sammy Sosa.
The shots also moved him past Frank Thomas and into 21st place on the all-time major league list with 509 home runs.
“He can swing the bat,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “If Jim Thome stays healthy, he is going to put up big numbers. It isn’t a surprise. He’s in the 500 club for a reason.”
Thome could have had an even bigger day. In the seventh he would have probably scored two more runners had Jason Michaels not made an incredible catch in front of the left-field wall.
“Sometimes you have good at-bats, sometimes not,” Thome said. “But the battle is always great.”