TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Jim Thome thought he took care of the hard part, reaching 500 home runs. But getting the historic ball to Cooperstown has proved to be a challenge, too.
Thome had hoped to celebrate the milestone homer at the Hall of Fame by now, but the birth of his son and bad weather have stopped him from making the trip.
``The home run ball is at home. It is locked up. We are just trying to get there,'' Thome said Monday at training camp with the Chicago White Sox. ``We will get it there eventually.''
Thome hit No. 500 on Sept. 16, connecting against the Los Angeles Angels and becoming the 23rd player to reach the mark.
He couldn't go to upstate New York late last year because of his son's birth. Since then, he's had snow wipe out two trips to the Hall, where he was to hand the ball over in a presentation with his father, Chuck, and Will Stewart, the person who caught the homer.
Thome said he's hoping to get there during an off-day during the season.
``That is something you look back on and never forget,'' Thome said. ``It was a very special thing and will always be.''
Thome's priorities now move to hitting more home runs - he currently has 507 - and getting the White Sox back into contention for an AL Central title.
A career .281 hitter who has averaged over 40 home runs in his last 11 years, Thome arrived early to get extra swings in the batting cages.
``Everything is good and ready to go. That is why I come early,'' Thome said. ``I like to make sure I am on top of things.''
Thome is optimistic there will be more runs to drive in than the 96 he did a year ago with Chicago's acquisition of Nick Swisher and Orlando Cabrera.
If the new players work out, Thome is hoping the celebration of the 500th home run ball can coincide with a World Series championship.
``You come to spring training every year to win a ring. I feel blessed that I have been given this opportunity,'' Thome said. ``The ultimate goal coming into spring training is to win a championship. You have to be healthy. A lot of things have to be right.''
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