Thome, Furcal take home weekly awards
Vets have hot week at dish, lead teams to important wins
It's early, of course, but the Dodgers and Twins are both already looking to their veteran players to provide an edge as they jockey for position in their respective divisions.
Twins designated hitter Jim Thome and Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal both did their parts last week with stellar weeks at the dish for which they were rewarded on Tuesday with the Bank of America Player of the Week distinctions for their respective leagues.
Furcal led his club to a 5-1 week, including a sweep of NL West rival San Francisco. His .578 average last week lead all Major Leaguers.
The shortstop scored two runs in the Dodgers' win over Arizona on Independence Day, adding to a streak of 10 consecutive games in which he has scored a run. Overall, the 32-year-old is hitting .335 entering play on Tuesday, but didn't receive a nod to join the league's other elite players in Anaheim next week. But Furcal has his eyes focused solely on helping the team win.
"Disappointed?" Furcal said, when asked if he was disappointed about not being selected to the NL All-Star team. "Why? No. It's OK. They pick the right people and there's nothing I can do with that. I just keep doing the way I'm playing right now and help the team win."
Few players in the league are helping their team win more right now than Thome, who turned in another strong week to lead his club's effort. Thome, who finished the week with a .400 clip, homered in back-to-back games against their rival Tigers early in the week, and also added a triple -- a rare feat for the lumbering veteran.
"I was like you and everybody else, I was entertaining myself," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the triple. "I was laughing and watching him run and the whole dugout was too. You become a fan when that happens. It's pretty exciting."
Aside from his numbers, though, Thome's week was certainly one he'll remember. On Saturday, Thome passed Twins great and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew for 10th on the all-time home run list with his 574th career blast. He added two more hits, one of them another home run to finish off his whirlwind day. After his big blast, Thome was honored with a video message from Killebrew, a reward that rivaled the accomplishment itself, he said.
"That is something that will go down as one of the better moments in my career," Thome said. "I was extremely touched and taken back. Any time a baseball game stops and somebody like that speaks, it's very humbling. It's an honor to have a man like that do something like that. It was really, really cool."
Gardenhire knows that Thome can't be an everyday player at this stage of his careeer, but he's having trouble keeping the slugger out of the lineup the way he's hitting.
"We'll just take it day by day," Gardenhire said earlier in the week. "If he just keeps hitting those home runs and singles, he'll be fine.
Bailey Stephens is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.