In My Words: Thome gains perspective on job

August 14th, 2017

My wife thinks I'm crazy. She says, "Oh my God, Jim, all you do is watch baseball."

I say, "Yeah, I'm working."

I have been a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn since I retired in 2013. And this year, I joined MLB Network as a studio analyst. Both jobs are so great because they feed off each other. It keeps me in the loop with what's going with the game.

I really love working with the White Sox. When the team is in town, I'll sit with Jerry Reinsdorf, Rick and Kenny Williams, and we'll break down the game.

:: Chicago White Sox: In My Words ::

I've been involved with the Draft. I went down to the Minors to see Jake Burger. They wanted another set of eyes to see him. That's why this is so great. The Sox have so many great scouts, and if they consider me to be in that group, it's a great honor. You feel like your opinions are being thoughtfully heard in the room. I told them I think Jake is going to be a great player.

They'll also send me out to our Minor League teams, especially if they want me to spend time with a certain player. I need to have a good rapport with the hitting coaches; understand what they're doing. I'm not looking to change anything.

One of the biggest things I try to do is just talk positively. If we can get a guy not only mechanically better, but also mentally, that's where I play a big part. There's so much failure in this game. You have to learn how to fail. These kids come here as the big studs from either their high school or college teams. Then all of the sudden, a lot of things get thrown at them. How do you learn to handle 0-for-9? How do you get on base when the count is 0-2? The fun part of this game is figuring it out. And figuring it out means experience and being receptive to coaching.

At the end of the day, you're trying to get them fired up and ready to play. When it's hot in August, and you're tired from all those long bus rides, maybe that one extra voice can get you going.

It's been terrific working three or four days a month at MLB Network. You're in this studio with all these cameras, but ultimately it's just a bunch of guys talking baseball.

What I loved most about playing baseball was the camaraderie of being with your boys. Whenever I'm at MLB Network, there's also the feeling of being part of a team. What we're all trying to do is share some of the things we learned throughout our careers.

I love what I do with the White Sox and MLB Network, but I'll admit there's a part of me that does want to return to the field. I feel like I'll always be a baseball field guy. If that job presents itself down the road, I'd have to think about it. But I'm in no rush.

My current job with the White Sox really has given me a unique perspective. As a player, you're always locked in. There's tunnel vision. It's, "OK, what am I going to do against today?" Behind the scenes, you see all the strategy involved and the discussion that goes into making decisions. It's been cool to see. I respect that side of game, and after playing for 22 years, I certainly respect how hard it is to do it on the field. That was tough.

As told to Ed Sherman.