Jim Thome talks about joining the Orioles

Jim Thome will make his Orioles debut today, batting fifth as the designated hitter. Not long after arriving at the ballpark, he talked about joining the Orioles.

“I’m excited to be here,” Thome said. “These guys have had a great year and done some special things. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.”

Thome is batting .242 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 62 at-bats on the year. He hit .333 in nine interleague games with four homers and 14 RBIs and had a 1.062 OPS in June.

He has 18 homers in 246 career at-bats at Camden Yards, averaging one every 13.6 at-bats.

“Competing against these guys for a lot of years, it’s always been a good park to hit in, but you have to go out and have good at-bats,” he said. “(Good at-bats) will produce hits. I think everyone knows when the weather gets warm here, the ball carries well. But you have to have consistent at-bats.”

Thome is happy to be back in the American League after the trade from Philadelphia.

“I am. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play as much first base as I wanted or the Phillies wanted,” Thome said. “That put them in a tough situation. When we got to interleague I was able to get some consistent at-bats.

“It kind of made me realize how much I did love the game. I’m looking forward to meeting these guys and looking to fit in here. (Baltimore’s) been successful. Philly is a great organization and they were first-class. They put me in a real good situation here, so I’m excited.”

Thome said he hopes to add some leadership to the team.

“As a veteran I was fortunate in my days in Cleveland to learn from the likes of Eddie Murray and Dave Winfield, watching them as their career winded down,” he said. “Not only can you contribute the days you play, but also the days you don’t play - watching the game, watching pitchers and just talking baseball. Sometimes, you might say something to somebody and it helps them. I’m always there. Being a good teammate is being a good listener and always being there as a teammate and friend.”

Thome was asked how much longer he wants to play.

“I know my career is winding down, I do,” he said. “I’ll be 42 years old. But I haven’t put too much thought into it because we’re in the grind now. We’re in the grind of the season. I think that is all to be determined when you get done playing this year. I know I am getting towards the end. That is why I think this is a neat situation for me. It gives me a chance to play a little bit and also be on a very, very good team.”

Thome spent time on the phone yesterday with Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. They played together in 2010 with Minnesota and Thome wanted to know more about the team he was coming to.

“He loves it here and said the guys are great,” Thome said. “Baltimore has hung in there and played very well, in a very good division. J.J. is a positive guy and he talked very highly about everybody here.”

Thome said his back is fine and that he hopes to be physically able to play every day.

“I haven’t been playing every day,” he said. “At some point, I’ll sit down with Buck (Showalter) and get a feel for what he is thinking. But I expect to come to the ballpark and play every day. Can I do that? Realistically, probably not, but the mentality is to come and be ready every day. I also want to help on the days I don’t play.

“I went on the DL earlier and everything has been fine (with my back).”

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