White Sox notebook: Thome Ticker at 496

Nathaniel Whalen

If Jim Thome wants to block out his pursuit of 500 career homers, the White Sox designated hitter probably shouldn’t look at the LaSalle Bank sign hanging over the right-field concourse at U.S. Cellular Field.

If, however, he wants an update, Thome can just gaze at the newly installed “Thome Ticker” that sits between the words “LaSalle Bank” and the electronic scoreboard out there.

In the lower left-hand corner is the number “496” — reminding him that he’s still four homers short of the milestone.

“I’m trying not to focus in on that, because ultimately, you come to the ballpark and you focus in every day on winning,” Thome said.

“It’s been nice to do it, to get closer, to have people talk about it a little more. But ultimately, it goes back to winning the game. You can hit a home run and it’s nice to move forward, but if you don’t win the ballgame, it’s just not that much fun.”

This season hasn’t been fun for the Sox, but many on the team were holding out hope that Thome’s 500th could be a good pick-me-up at the end.

One thing that might help the DH get No. 500 this season would be if Ozzie Guillen bats him leadoff, as the manager has said he might.

“He’s the man,” Thome said of Guillen. “Whatever he thinks. It would be OK with me. It would be cool.”

Closer to fine

Bobby Jenks’ rare blown save Thursday just went to remind Guillen how good his closer is.

“I think he is the best closer (in baseball), to me, with all due respect to all the guys who have more saves than him,” Guillen said.

Jenks went into Friday’s game tied for second in the American League with 37 saves, trailing Cleveland’s Joe Borowski (40). Yet, Jenks has saved 63 percent of the Sox’s wins, by far the highest percentage in the majors.

Clean and dandy

Reports linking Toronto’s Troy Glaus and St. Louis’ Rick Ankiel to performance enhancers were met with little fanfare in the Sox clubhouse.

“Obviously it is,” veteran catcher Toby Hall said when asked if the game is cleaner now than it was a few years ago. “Whatever’s going on and people are popping up, I think it’s always been clean. I think it’s just there’s a percentage, if you really look at it, it’s not that big.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate people’s names get brought up, but until it’s proven, there’s nothing there.”

Dyeing to get back

Jermaine Dye (strained left groin) said he’s feeling “much better” and hopes to play today.

The right fielder was scheduled to take batting practice Friday for the first time since injuring himself Tuesday, but rain shortened the Sox’s batting practice.

Learning on the fly

Guillen said he’d like Josh Fields to play in the Instructional League in the fall to hasten Fields’ learning curve for playing left field.