Thome to undergo MRI on neck (updated)

NEW YORK - Designated hitter Jim Thome is returning to Baltimore and will undergo an MRI on his neck tomorrow to determine the cause of spasms that have kept him out of the lineup for the past three games.

Thome is listed among the reserves tonight, but he won’t be available to play.

Thome tried to hit earlier today before giving up and meeting with manager Buck Showalter.

“It’s really not getting any better, to be honest,” Thome said. “Maybe a little bit of improvement, but not much. I tried to hit and it didn’t respond the way we wanted it to.

“The next plan is to leave tonight and go back to Baltimore and get an MRI, see what we’re dealing with. That’s kind of been the game plan here.”

Thome is batting .261/.354/.391 with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs in 18 games with the Orioles.

Thome said the discomfort is “a little bit more than what I’ve normally dealt with.”

“Usually, after a couple days it will start calming down, but it really hasn’t done that. We kind of made a decision that maybe the best thing to do is get a look and see what we’re dealing with and then from there decide a course of action with treatments and if anything else needs to be done. That’s what we decided earlier.”

Thome hasn’t played since Friday night at Camden Yards, when he first noticed some stiffness in his neck.

“I went home and woke up the next day and did not feel very good at all,” he said. “To say it could have happened in the game, I don’t know. The next morning I woke up extremely more sore than I had normally been and that’s when I told them about it.”

Asked if he remains optimistic, Thome replied, “Yeah, you always have to be. I think this is more of a, ‘Let’s find out if there’s anything in there that’s wrong,’ than, ‘Oh, there’s something really bad.’ I don’t know. I just know the discomfort I’m having, and I think the best thing moving forward with the short amount of time, I want to get back as quick as I can, and that’s the reason we’re going to do that tomorrow.

“It’s not getting better. It’s not getting worse.”

Chris Davis is serving as the designated hitter tonight, with Lew Ford returning to left field.

Here’s the Yankees’ lineup:

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher DH
Raul Ibanez LF
Eric Chavez 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

Freddy Garcia RHP

As for the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are flying that the Orioles are close to acquiring Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton. I haven’t been told that it’s a done deal.

Also, I’ve heard that the Orioles expressed serious interest in Royals reliever Jonathan Broxton over the weekend, but there may not be a match.

Broxton, a free agent after this season, is 1-2 with 23 saves and a 2.27 ERA in 35 appearances.

The Orioles are known to be seeking a left-hander to join Troy Patton, but they’re apparently looking to strengthen the bullpen from either side - especially if they fail to land a starter.

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