CLEVELAND -- Call it a mentor memento for Jim Thome. Before Monday's makeup game against the Mariners, Thome was handed a game-issued Louisville Slugger bearing the name of one Charlie Manuel, the man whose influence on Thome was profound. Their relationship dates back to when Thome was in his first Spring Training with the Tribe in 1990 and Manuel was a roving hitting instructor in the organization. Manuel, who urged Thome to start using his now-famous bat point as a timing mechanism, wound up managing Thome in both Cleveland and Philadelphia. The bat was presented to Thome by Nobi Kuga, a reporter for NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Kuga is based in Minneapolis and found the bat at a baseball card show there. It is from Manuel's playing days with the Twins in the early 1970s.
"I saw Charlie Manuel in Houston last week and asked him if it's all right if I give the bat to Jim Thome," Kuga said. "He said, 'Go right ahead.'" The bat is clearly from another era. It's thin, the wood has started to warp and there is no tape on the handle. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said. "It's going in my office at home."