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Thome likely to return Sunday

Thome likely to return Sunday

CHICAGO -- Jim Thome was not in the starting lineup for the third straight game Saturday due to stiffness in his back, but he also was available to pinch-hit and is expected to be back in his usual starting role for Sunday's series finale with the Rockies.

Facing a series of left-handed pitchers over the past three games -- Kenny Rogers, Jeff Francis and Jorge De La Rosa -- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen felt it best to leave Thome on the bench to rest his back, rather than risk further injury.

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"Thome is feeling better," Guillen said. "He talked to us about it. I am going to give him another day, just to be sure we're on the right track. Hopefully, I don't have to use him [Saturday]. If we need him, we're going to, but hopefully we don't. Last night, we could have used him, and hopefully, he'll be better tomorrow against a right-handed pitcher."

When Interleague Play takes the White Sox to National League parks as soon as next weekend, Guillen will use Thome in a limited role to protect him from the aches and pains of fielding a position.

"We planned that he will be available to pinch-hit. I try to stay away from him as much as I can at first base," Guillen said. "I have [Nick] Swisher who can play first, too. Last year, we played [Thome] a little bit, and all of a sudden, it took like two weeks to recover."

David Just is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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