- Jon Greenberg, Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Jim Thome said if the White Sox want him back, all they have to do is call him. But he isn't exactly waiting by the phone.
"My door is open," the affable designated hitter said to reporters at the White Sox's "Bring Me Home" campaign event at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday night. "All you've got to do is call me. We'll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I've learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on."
Thome was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, ostensibly to give the 39-year-old a chance to win a World Series ring. He got just 22 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter for the Dodgers, which lost in the NL Championship Series to Philadelphia.
Thome has 564 home runs, five shy of Rafael Palmeiro for 11th place on the all-time list and 22 shy of Frank Robinson, who is currently seventh on the list. Mark McGwire is 19 home runs ahead of Thome.
"I want to play baseball," said Thome, who praised the White Sox organization several times in a brief interview. "Right now, we're talking to a few teams, so we'll see what happens. It's been a slow winter in the market, so we're waiting to see what's going to happen and move forward."
Thome and Paul Konerko, along with their wives, started the "Bring Me Home" charity, which helps raise money for foster children and foster families, in 2007.
Thome is still popular among White Sox players and executives, and he still hit 23 homers last year, so it's not unreasonable to think he could return. But manager Ozzie Guillen has made it clear that he wants the DH spot to be flexible, so he can rotate players in and out of the spot. Thome, who needs regular maintenance on his back, can't play the field.
"I have no idea [how it would work]. I've never been on a team that did that," Konerko said. "Since 2000, every year I've been here there has been a full-time DH, give or take a week when someone was hurt or whatever. We'll see how that plays out. They seem to be confident it's the right thing to do."
Konerko said he is pushing for Thome's return, and wouldn't mind seeing Jermaine Dye back too. While that's not really feasible, Konerko said he's surprised those two don't have jobs yet.
"He's still productive," Konerko said of Thome. "Both of them are. You're not talking about guys who are looking for one last shot after an off year. You're talking about two guys who had productive years."
Jon Greenberg is a writer and columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
Former White Sox DH Jim Thome says if the Sox call, he'll come back to the South Side.