- Associated Press - Saturday, June 30, 2012

BALTIMORE (AP) - Slugger Jim Thome is headed to the Baltimore Orioles, whose struggling offense is in dire need of some punch.

Thome was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday for two young minor leaguers _ right-hander Kyle Simon and catcher Gabriel Lino.

The 41-year-old Thome is a five-time All-Star. His 609 homers are tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh place on the career list, and his 1,689 RBIs over a 22-year career are 25th all-time.

Thome will move right into the designated hitter role with the Orioles, who have been a surprising contender in the AL East. Out for much of the season with a lower back strain, Thome didn’t figure to see much time in the field for the slumping Phillies. He also had struggled as a pinch hitter.


“There’s a part of me that’s happy to go and get a chance to play a little bit. Baltimore is having a nice year and it will be exciting to go over there and try to help those guys win and get some at-bats. I’m excited about that, for sure,” Thome said.

“There’s always emotions when you’re traded because you have so much respect for the Phillies organization,” he said.

In 30 games for the Phillies this season, Thome hit .242 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. He missed more than a month with the back problem and the Phillies didn’t want to risk having him get hurt again.

“I think the disappointing thing for me is that I wasn’t able to play as much first base as I thought,” he said.

As a DH, Thome can purely focus on hitting.

“We felt Thome’s presence and our need on the major league team were worth the value we have to give up in a trade,” said Dan Duquette, the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations. “We like both the young players. They’re both in A ball. We needed some help to bolster our lineup.”

Thome appears to be the perfect fit.

Jim Thome’s a real pro, and he specializes in hitting home runs and getting on base,” Duquette said. “He’s done that consistently his whole career. Beyond that, he’s a terrific teammate and a steady presence. He’s a veteran, he’s been around the league. He’s been in the pennant race and he’s been in the playoffs. We like all those things that he brings to our team.

“I think he gives us a little bit more depth to our lineup with the injuries we’ve had, the left-handed hitters in our lineup. I think his presence in the lineup will make the opposing pitchers work harder. Because he gets on base and hits home runs and can hit the ball out of any part of this ballpark, we think he’ll be an asset to the team.”

The Orioles got a good look at Thome earlier this month when he went 6 for 13 with four RBIs in a three-game series at Camden Yards. He also got his first home run and RBI of the year that weekend.

Thome has done quite well in Baltimore over the years. In 67 career games at Camden Yards, he’s hit 18 home runs _ one every 13.6 at-bats _ with 45 RBIs. Of the 65 homers to land on distant Eutaw Street in two decades, Thome has launched two of them.

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