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10/09/06 7:29 PM ET

Frank Thomas off-day interview

Do the Tigers remind you at all of the White Sox team from a year ago?

FRANK THOMAS: They've been very consistent all year. That team has been I guess the biggest surprise and the team that shocked the world this year so far. You know, we know what to expect from Detroit. We've had nine games with them, and they're a very good team.

Clear story line is going to be you and Magglio Ordoñez having been former White Sox now facing off against each other. How close were you when you were teammates in Chicago and have you connected at all under these circumstances? I know it's not personal.

FRANK THOMAS: I know it's not personal, but Magglio and I went down pretty much the same row with the White Sox. It was great. We went to different teams and we've done a great job for our new teams. It's kind of funny that we're facing off in the ALCS.

I think early in 2000 and 2003 when the A's didn't make it past the first round, I always thought they needed that veteran leadership in the clubhouse. Did you feel you were going to contribute in that way?

FRANK THOMAS: I knew I could. My goal when I first got here was not to be a distraction. My goal was to come in and fit in and be a good teammate to these guys and help them get to the next level. This has been a great eye-opening experience this year for me with this club because you've got a bunch of guys that are so loose having fun, but when we get between the lines it's all about business.

When you talk about that veteran leadership, what is it that you bring? Is it you talking to young players about game situations, about their approach when they go to the plate? What is the most important thing that you've brought when it comes to maybe stuff off the field?

FRANK THOMAS: I think it's been more of a working attitude that I brought. From day one I pretty much tried to outwork everybody day in and day out. The guys have seen me work; he's nuts, he's working out again. That's been my attitude all year long is just to keep that type of visual for the guys about it's all about hard work.

As for helping guys through tough times, I've always done that. I've helped a lot of guys this year, which is a good thing. This club has made itself because guys have been dedicated from day one that we wanted to make something happen this year and show people that we're a good ball club.

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Everybody knows there was a somewhat uncomfortable departure from Chicago, but it seems like you've really enjoyed playing here. Is this the -- how long has it been since you've had a season that was this much fun for you?

FRANK THOMAS: You know, it's been a lot of fun this year. Don't get me wrong, I've had fun in the past. But I never knew what to expect from change. The change this year has been great for me. It's been wonderful. It's just motivated me to play at a high level again and also just to prove a lot of people wrong because I've always been that type of player that I've always played better with my back against the wall. This has been a great thing for us. Hopefully we enjoy it all and we can take this to another level.

It seems like you have a renewed sense of purpose and love for the game. Playing with a bunch of young guys like that, has that been a big part of that, or is it being healthy?

FRANK THOMAS: First it's been health, second it's been being around a bunch of guys -- I've never seen anything like this all year long, but they've been so consistent with it. These guys are nuts, a lot of fun. There's a looseness in the clubhouse that I've never felt before, and it's been great for me.

I can't imagine the frustration of being on the sidelines while your team goes and wins the World Series, so just simply, what's it like to be healthy after all you've been through?

FRANK THOMAS: Well, I guess I got a year of experience last year by watching. Yeah, I've definitely been that veteran in the clubhouse right now telling guys, hey, this is step one, this is step two. I saw it unfolding underneath my eyes last year.

It's just one of those things that I'm very happy to be here this round as a player, and I've fought so many years to get here. It just seems really weird that it happened the first year I go to a new team. It's been a special year. Hopefully this will continue because it's been one hell of a ride so far.

As happy as you were for your teammates last year, did you ever wonder if you'd ever get to be physically involved in such a stage like you are right now?

FRANK THOMAS: I never wondered. I told people last year I'll be ready to go next year. My goal was to come back and have a huge year for the White Sox this year and try for a repeat. Being released, I still had the same goal in mind, to come out and have one hell of a year, and I have.

Given the parallels between you and Magglio, is it at least assurance if you don't make it to the World Series that Magglio will be there?

FRANK THOMAS: It's been great. We text each other all the time. We've stayed friends along the way. I'm very happy for him because he is a special player. It's one of those things, you don't look back, but we're both happy we've moved on in great situations.

I know that you probably never questioned that you would still be a productive player after coming back from the injury, but have you exceeded what you thought you might do this season with the way that you've produced?

FRANK THOMAS: No. I just think I've had an average year when I'm healthy. I mean, that's where I've been my whole career. Average-wise, I think I've been down. But as for production, I'm right where I normally -- my numbers are right where they're normally at for a full season for me.

As someone who's been in baseball as long as you have, in the majors, the loss of the Yankees, does that surprise you at all? So much was made about the best team that money can buy, and then they were out so quickly?

FRANK THOMAS: It's surprising to me because they had so many great starters on that team. If you look at that team, the way it's put together for the playoffs, it wasn't a team that played together all year long. Then didn't have that camaraderie, that chemistry that's part of a clubhouse like ours. But they had an unbelievable lineup of great players. But with all the injuries they had, they tried to put everybody back together and go for a playoff run and it just didn't work out for them.

Have you ever faced a guy that throws as hard as Zumaya?

FRANK THOMAS: I've faced him already a couple times already this year. This guy is a special pitcher. He throws 103 miles an hour sometimes, but he locates very well. Most guys who throw that hard, you can forget about location, but he can locate. Verlander is the same way. The first couple times we faced him he was hitting pretty much 100 every time.

Yeah, there are two pitchers that are very, very special. It's going to take one hell of an effort to beat those guys because when they're throwing lights out -- you saw it against the Yankees, Zumaya, when he throws his pitches it's very difficult to hit pitches against him.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.