White Sox hire Jim Thome

Potential Hall of Famer Jim Thome walked around U.S Cellular Field on Tuesday in an expensive suit rather than the baseball uniform he wore with pride for over 20 years.

Thome has rejoined the Chicago White Sox as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn, the team announced Tuesday.

"Before he left we had a sort of handshake agreement that at some point when he was done playing he was going to come back," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "Whether he was going to come back was never an issue, it just was a matter of when."

Thome, who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2018, was happy to hear from Reinsdorf when he called two weeks ago.

"I think the unique thing of all of this happening is my respect for Jerry," Thome said. "When I left here Jerry always joked about the fact he wanted me to come back at some point. The respect factor was big for me and that is why I came back. ... Whatever they want me to do, I will do."

Thome will consult with Hahn and assistant GM Buddy Bell and work with the major league staff and players as well as visiting the minor league teams, evaluating player performance.

"It is nearly impossible to top Jim's baseball resume with 22 seasons in the game and over 600 home runs," Hahn said in a statement. "When we talked recently about how he could move on to the next stage of his baseball career, an obvious fit was to join this organization, where Jim knows so many people and is immediately comfortable. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role, and we're excited to see the impact he will have on both our major leaguers and minor leaguers."

Thome, a Peoria, Ill., native, lives in south suburban Chicago with his wife and two young children.

"It will be exciting to get my feet wet as we go through this process," he said. "Learning things from Robin [Ventura] and Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams, I will take everything in."

Thome is a five-time All-Star who hit 40 or more home runs six times. He has 612 home runs and hit .276.

He played his first 12 seasons for the Cleveland Indians, before playing three for the Philadelphia Phillies and four for the Sox.