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 Thames does more with fewer at-bats

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PostSubject: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:47 am

Monday, July 21, 2008
Thames does more with fewer at-bats
Tiger doesn't play every day, but that hasn't stopped him from leading at the plate.
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News

KANSAS CITY -- Marcus Thames learned it while growing up in Mississippi. Serenity beats fretting. Patience whips anxiety. Strength triumphs over weakness, which is what big-league pitchers often learn if the pitch they throw Thames happens to end up in the outfield seats.

The latter event has occurred plenty in 2008 -- 19 times, in fact, heading into Monday night's Tigers-Royals game at Kauffman Stadium. Thames was leading the team in home runs with 19. His bat has been so hot during the past eight weeks that it's a wonder it hasn't turned to ashes.

In 43 games since May 21, Thames is batting .290 with 17 home runs, nine doubles and 35 RBIs. His ratio of home runs per times at bat is 10.32 -- the best of any player in the major leagues with at least 200 at-bats.

He is not, however, an everyday player. There are reasons behind a manager's decision there, which Jim Leyland has summed up concisely: Leyland believes playing Thames less than regularly makes him stronger and more productive.

A 31-year-old outfielder definitely disagrees, but Thames said Monday -- with a smile -- that "everybody goes through stuff. I just go to work. You can't control that other stuff."

He talked Monday about sitting with Tigers teammates Todd Jones and Curtis Granderson after Sunday's victory over Baltimore, which saw Thames get the winning home run. Jones mentioned how it takes a special player to accept a part-time role when skills and the passion to play regularly can create frustration when a talented player sits.

"But I can accept things," said Thames, who does not for a moment want such forbearance to be confused with weakness.

"I still want to play every day," he said. "At the end of everything that's said and done, I want to play every day."

Thames turned 31 in March and is having his best season at the heart of a ballplayer's prime. If his bashing continues in 2008, if injuries don't sabotage him, Thames understands the numbers he could amass.

And so do the Tigers.

Thames' ability to find peace in a part-time role stems from his boyhood days, when his mother was paralyzed in a car accident. Thames, who has four siblings, lived with an uncle who was already raising his three children of his own. The uncle made sure Marcus got to Little League games before Marcus decided, at age 11, to rejoin his mother and to begin helping her with her care.

His father was never involved. Although he lives a few miles away, he distanced himself from his wife and his children. Thames has reached out several times, even in recent years, to construct a relationship, but to no avail.

"I think he's embarrassed," Thames said of his father.


If he can point to anything different in what already is his best season in the majors, Thames says it is because he has seen more right-hand pitching and is hitting right-handers better.

In fact, he is batting .279 against right-handers and .257 against left-handers. His power numbers are a slightly different story.

Thames has 10 home runs in 122 at-bats against right-handers, nine in 74 at-bats against lefties. His slugging percentage against left-handers is a staggering .662. It is .574 against right-handers.

Thames is pleased, if not content. Above all, he appreciates that he has earned respect, to the point Red Sox sluggers Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz asked him during a recent series why he wasn't playing more regularly.

Thames smiles as he mentions the Red Sox moment. You count your blessings. You hope to be a contributor to your team.

You wait your turn -- and hope that you hit the ball, hard.

Plus pitching

The Tigers entered Monday's game with the best record of any team in baseball since June 7, racking up a 25-13 record. Even with an offense that has picked up, pitching has carried the Tigers.

The team has a 3.84 ERA during the run. Tigers starters in their last 49 games are 19-11 with a 3.78 ERA and have 28 quality starts (six innings or more, three or fewer earned runs).

The bullpen has been even sharper. The Tigers in their last 18 games have a 2.84 ERA. Opposing batters during that stretch have hit only .251.

You can reach Lynn Henning at lynn.henning@detnews.com
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:49 am

GO THAMES
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:01 am

Magglio's got some catching up to do!!
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:04 pm

scratch Nod


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:05 pm

home run wise!
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:21 pm

For sure! He is also putting pressure on Miggy!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:25 pm

Miggy still performs. If its not HRs, he still gets a ton of RBI.
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:32 pm

Thames is the best Tigers HR Hitter since Cecil Fielder
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PostSubject: Re: Thames does more with fewer at-bats   Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:14 pm

And strikes out more than Inge!!
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