The Cubs just wrapped a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, during which newly imported Brewers hitting sensation Eric Thames scored six runs and hit .545 with a home run. Thames has exploded onto the scene after spending a few years tearing up the KBO, and he looks like a completely different player than he did during his first stint in the major leagues.
Thames’s newfound power is one of the cooler stories of the early MLB season, but it’s also aroused some suspicions. While nobody said anything explicit about “steroids” or “PEDs” or “Eric Thames, who is doping,” some members of the Cubs seemed to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Thames’s performance. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio went on a local radio show and called Thames’s auspicious start a “head-scratcher” while comparing him to a handful of known juicers:
“Well, the bottom line is [Thames] has hit the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get around [it]. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.”
“You start thinking about Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez when he went to the Dodgers, Barry Bonds … You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play this game. So, yeah, it’s probably a ‘head-scratcher’ because nobody knows who this guy is. And when he was here before, his body has changed. But, like I said, I’ll leave that to everyone else and we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.”
John Lackey gave up a dinger to Thames in the first game of the series, and when he was discussing it, he smirked and winked before also saying that the homer called for scratches to one’s head. Lackey was more circumspect than Bosio and issued what reads as perhaps a veiled jab at Thames, especially when taken in context with his grin and wink:
“You watch film on recent stuff and try to figure out a way, you know, to get him out. But I mean, really even the homer hit the other way, I mean, you don’t see that happen here very often. That’s kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head.”
Lotta head scratching going on in Chicago, it would seem. I like SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee’s wild theory: The secret reason why Thames actually took Lackey deep was because he threw him a bad pitch.