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Sitting on bench has Thome itchin'

Thome eager to get back as Sox DH

LOS ANGELES -- Friday afternoon's series opener against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field just might feel like Opening Day all over again for Jim Thome.

OK, the slugger hasn't been out of action for that long. But this feeling of anticipation for Thome has more to do with his absence from the playing field over the past six days than the excitement emanating from Round 2 of the Crosstown Showdown. Entering Wednesday night, Thome has three pinch-hit appearances to show for his efforts over the past four games.

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It was a down period Thome knew was coming, with the absence of a designated hitter in National League ballparks and manager Ozzie Guillen's reluctance to use the veteran at first base. Needless to say, the energetic and upbeat Thome is ready to return.

"I'm excited," said Thome, who will be in the starting lineup for Friday's late afternoon start. "Obviously, it is what it is and you try to be prepared to pinch-hit and it's definitely, it's a different kind of approach than what I've normally been used to."

Thome was a shut down by Interleague road action at a seemingly inopportune time, coming off five hits and five RBIs during a three-game home sweep of the Pirates, and a .342 average with eight RBIs and 13 runs scored in his last 15 games. He re-enters the lineup against the Cubs' Ryan Dempster, who stopped the White Sox on Sunday night to complete the three-game sweep at Wrigley Field, but did yield a pinch-hit double to Thome.

Dempster and Sean Gallagher had their starting assignments flip-flopped this weekend, as of Wednesday.

Nobody on the White Sox has ever faced Gallagher, while Thome is hitless in three career at-bats against southpaw Sean Marshall, Sunday night's starter. Thome plans to watch tape of both to get himself prepared.

In the absence of four or five at-bats every day, Thome has been cognizant of staying on top of his extra work to be ready on Friday and when/if he's needed in Los Angeles.

"You have to be ready for whomever is coming into the game when you pinch-hit," Thome said. "You also want to do your work, do your cage work and do the work you got to do to keep you there when you get back.

"We have a couple more games here. And then back to normal."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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