Eric Thames Newsbeat
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
With five April games left to play, Thames has a Major League record within reach. Albert Pujols hit a record 14 April home runs in 2006, and Alex Rodriguez matched that in 2007.
Has Thames ever had more fun playing baseball?
“I would say the last three years. When I actually started to let go,” said Thames, referring to his time in Korea. “When I was a prospect and [breaking into] the big leagues, I stressed out a lot. I drank a lot. I was just like, ‘Oh my God, I have to hit a home run or I’m going back to Double-A and Triple-A.
“Now, in Korea and here, I’m just like, ‘OK, I’m going to do my job, I’m going to work as hard as I can, and when it’s time for game time, just relax and let it all go.’ It’s amazing when stress levels decrease and you start to actually have fun and be loose and be able to react. It’s crazy.”
Posted: April 25, 2017 at 06:40 AM | 0 comment(s)
Friday, April 21, 2017
He is used to this kind of attention. In South Korea, where Thames averaged 41 home runs over three seasons, fans nicknamed him “God.” He still has a pile of T-shirts somewhere with that word written on them in Korean, a gift Thames sheepishly accepted. He went on a date one night and was out on the street kissing a girl when a fan tapped him on the shoulder and asked for an autograph.
Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:59 AM | 0 comment(s)
Thursday, April 20, 2017
In his post-game press conference, Lackey said (via the Chicago Tribune) that Thames’ home run was “kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head.” Lackey seemingly very intentionally winked at the reporter who asked him the question.
Bosio appeared on the Mully and Hanley show and was asked about Starling Marte‘s recent suspension after testing positive for Nandrolone. Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports provides the transcript:
Well, the bottom line is [Thames] has hit the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get around [it]. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.
You start thinking about Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez when he went to the Dodgers, Barry Bonds … You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play this game. So, yeah, it’s probably a ‘head-scratcher’ because nobody knows who this guy is. And when he was here before, his body has changed. But, like I said, I’ll leave that to everyone else and we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Thames was given a drug test immediately after Monday’s game against the Cubs.
The problem? He swung at everything. And it almost cost him everything. But he’s back and emerging as the biggest surprise of the 2017 season. How did he climb back for this second act that most players never get?
“Plate discipline,” Thames said, simply. “I learned in Korea that they won’t challenge you as much as they do in the minor leagues and [majors]. And maintaining the strike zone and swinging at strikes, that’s like the ultimate goal for everybody.”
Thames signed with the NC Dinos of the South Korean League, then spent the next three seasons putting up Ruthian numbers on the other side of the globe. All told, he hit .349/.451/.721 with 124 homers, 382 RBIs and 64 steals in Korea, but Thames wasn’t just dominating lesser competition; he was working on his game, making it more pliable for a return to the States. Part of it was metrics. Or at least one metric: Thames started to track the number of pitches he chased out of the zone, and mixed that with a little self-motivating tool.
“Starting in Korea, every time I chase, I put a dollar in the pot and I donate it at the end of the year,” Thames said. “It’s a challenge. I was a guy that swung at everything, so many balls out of the zone early on in my career. It’s a big thing. That’s why I couldn’t handle it in Seattle. It’s why I got sent down.”
He’s been really impressive to watch so far. I also like how this article is framed around comparing this approach with Tim Anderson.
Thursday, April 06, 2017
The Babe Ruth of Korea is a Jesuit prep school graduate who is built like Terry Crews, wears a beard down to his chest, and was nicknamed God. But Eric Thames’s rock star life in Changwon reached its most outrageous point one late night last year.
“I was on a date,” he says. “We were on the street kissing, and a fan came up, hit me on the shoulder and was like, ‘Hey, can you sign?’ I’m like, ‘I’m with a girl right now! Get out of here.’ I was blown away.
“Wouldn’t matter if it was six in the morning, three in the morning, a dark alley or what. It was crazy. Because of my look—the beard, the tattoos—and because of what I did on the field, I couldn’t go anywhere.”
This year Thames said goodbye to South Korea, where for the past three seasons he put up video game numbers for the NC Dinos (.348 with 124 homers in 388 games), to take his second crack at fame in major league baseball. His first stint here, in which he bounced among the Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore and Houston organizations, was nondescript. Now, at age 30, he has a rebuilt swing, a newly found love of meditation and visualization, and the security of a three-year, $16 million contract to play first base for the Brewers.
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