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Thames responds to suspicions after hot start

First baseman sets Brewers record with 11th April homer
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames understands the suspicions. If it were some other player hitting home runs at a record pace, especially after playing three years abroad, Thames might be suspicious himself.

But after hitting his Major League-leading 11th home run in the Brewers' 9-1 win Tuesday -- giving Thames more homers (eight) in six games against the Reds than any other Major Leaguer has homers, period -- Thames submitted to a random drug test for the second time this month and responded to those who have been whispering he must be "on something" to hit like this.

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MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames understands the suspicions. If it were some other player hitting home runs at a record pace, especially after playing three years abroad, Thames might be suspicious himself.

But after hitting his Major League-leading 11th home run in the Brewers' 9-1 win Tuesday -- giving Thames more homers (eight) in six games against the Reds than any other Major Leaguer has homers, period -- Thames submitted to a random drug test for the second time this month and responded to those who have been whispering he must be "on something" to hit like this.

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"I went the long way around to come back here," Thames said, referring to this three-year stint in South Korea. "This whole thing is surprising me, as well. I really have no goals for this year. I wasn't trying to break any records or set anything. I just wanted to apply what I learned in Korea to see how it would fare here. I'm shocked at all the results. I'm just here to play ball, and do my best to stay healthy, and stretch as much as I can.

"So, yeah, if people keep thinking I'm on stuff, I'll be here every day. I have lots of blood and urine."

Video: CIN@MIL: Thames on his early success, suspicions

After hitting two home runs in Monday's series opener against the Reds, Thames lofted a two-run shot to right field in the sixth inning on Tuesday, giving him a homer in each of Milwaukee's six games against Cincinnati this season. His 11 home runs set a new Brewers record for April.

Video: MIL@CHC: Lee blasts his 10th homer of the month

The Brewers have four games remaining this month, all at climate-controlled, hitter-friendly Miller Park, giving Thames a shot at the Major League record for April dingers. That mark is 14 home runs, shared by Albert Pujols (2006) and Alex Rodriguez ('07).

"It's fun to make history," Thames said.

Less fun is batting away the innuendo, which was fueled by the Brewers' visit to Wrigley Field earlier this month. On April 17, Thames hit an opposite-field home run into the wind off John Lackey in a Brewers win over the Cubs, giving Thames a homer in a franchise-record-tying fifth straight game.

Video: Thames sets Brewers record with 11 homers in April

After the game, Lackey said it was "kind of one of those things that makes you scratch your head." Kyle Schwarber said, "Whatever he's doing I guess I need to get on."

Neither player directly referenced PEDs, and perhaps their comments have been misread. But Thames, who was randomly selected for a urine test that same night, is engaged enough in social media to know that many fans made the connection.

"I'm getting blown up," he said with a smile.

On Tuesday, he was selected for a second in-season test, this time for blood in addition to urine. All players submit to the same test in Spring Training, as well, so Thames has been tested at least three times since signing a three-year contract with Milwaukee in November.

Video: MLB Tonight discusses Thames' postgame comments

The Brewers expected Thames to endure an adjustment period, but that has not happened. He has reached safely in 18 of his 20 games played. His 11 home runs are the most by a Brewers player in any month since Prince Fielder belted 11 in August 2009.

"Any time a guy goes on a run like this, you're in awe a little bit," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who was a teammate of Fielder's.

According to Elias, Thames is the first player in the modern era to homer in each of his first six games against a given opponent. He is the second player since 1913 to homer in six straight games against the Reds, and the first since the Phillies' Stan Lopata from July 20-Aug. 28, 1957.

"This guy has been a destroyer, certainly against us," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That's a credit to him. He's able to get the ball in the air and drive the ball out of the ballpark anywhere from left field to the right-field line. That's a sign of a guy that's hot, confident and comfortable -- that's a pretty good place to be as a hitter, I'd imagine."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames