TORONTO (AP) -The Toronto Blue Jays released slumping designated hitter Frank Thomas Sunday, cutting the 19-year veteran loose one day after he was angry for being taken out of the lineup.
General manager J.P. Ricciardi said he and Thomas came to ``a mutual agreement'' after meeting in the clubhouse early Sunday.
``Our best opportunity is to put other guys in the lineup at this point,'' Ricciardi said. ``Obviously, reduced playing time is not something that he was interested in. In order to let him go forward and get on with his career, I think it's fair to do it at this point.''
The move leaves the Blue Jays on the hook for the remainder of the two-year $18-million contract the 39-year-old Thomas signed in November 2006.
Thomas was hitless in his past 13 at-bats and had gone 4-for-35 since homering in three straight games April 5-8. Known as a slow starter, he batted .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs for Toronto this season.
Last season, Thomas batted .277, leading the team with 26 home runs and 95 RBIs.
``I don't know that we have the luxury of waiting two to three months for somebody to kick in because we can't let this league or this division get away from us,'' Ricciardi said.
Thomas' deal included a $10-million option for 2009 that would have kicked in automatically if he made 376 plate appearances this season. On Saturday, Thomas said the Blue Jays had benched him to prevent him from reaching that mark.
``It's pretty obvious,'' Thomas said. ``Sixty at bats isn't enough to make that decision. I'm angry, I know I can help this team. My career isn't going to end like this.''
Thomas did not shake hands with his teammates following Toronto's 3-2 victory over Detroit Saturday and left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.
Ricciardi said Thomas was more calm when they met Sunday, adding that the contract was not part of their discussion.
``That never came up,'' Ricciardi said. ``I told Frank our decision is based on performance and his decision is based on not being able to be in the lineup.''
He reached the 500-homer plateau on June 28 against Minnesota's Carlos Silva.
Thomas has 516 career homers, placing him 18th on baseball's career list. In addition, he has hit 264 career home runs as a designated hitter, the most in baseball history.
With a career average of .302, Thomas is one of four players in baseball history to record at least a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks. The others are Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.
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