Thome understands injury risk of celebrations

Thome understands injury risk of celebrations

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Thome has been a part of his fair share of walk-off home run celebrations. And fortunately for Thome, he's never had to suffer an injury during postgame festivities like Angels slugger Kendry Morales, who fractured his left ankle Saturday while celebrating a walk-off grand slam against the Mariners.

But Thome, whose 11 walk-off home runs are the most of any active player in baseball, certainly feels for Morales following such a freak injury.

"It's unfortunate," Thome said. "You never want to have an injury because of that. I don't know everything that actually happened. But what a good player, and anytime that happens, you never like it -- that's for sure."

Thome sits in a tie with Tony Perez for sixth on the all-time list for walk-off homers. His 11 jacks are just one shy of the all-time lead of 12 -- achieved by Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Babe Ruth.

The veteran slugger has certainly experienced his share of aggressive celebrations at home plate. Still, Thome said that when he's rounding the bases and headed for home, he's not worrying about what could go wrong when he's in the fray with his teammates.

"The only thing that you're thinking about is celebrating," Thome said. "You're having fun with your teammates. You've won a ballgame and there's a lot of excitement. You play a game to ultimately win in the end, and when your teammates are there, it's a lot of fun. I don't think [getting injured] goes through your mind. You're more focused on getting off the field, and then celebrating with your teammates inside."

The Twins endured a celebration injury of their own when second baseman Denny Hocking had his hand broken after catching the final out in the clinching game of the 2002 American League Division Series at Oakland. A teammate -- believed to be Jacque Jones -- stepped on Hocking's right middle finger, and Hocking missed the entire ALCS when the Twins fell to the Angels.

But now, with Morales' freak injury in the spotlight, the question has been raised as to whether players will change the way they celebrate at home plate in the future.

"I don't tell them what to do, they go out and jump around, and it was an unfortunate accident," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Whether he landed on someone's foot or as Denny Hocking once said, someone took him out on purpose, I doubt it.

"But I'd imagine that might be in the players' minds a little bit now. Rather than high jump into home plate, they might walk in. Let's just hope we see lots of them."