Thames was speaking early in spring training at the Milwaukee Brewers’ camp in Phoenix. After his three spellbinding seasons in South Korea, the Brewers had met all of Thames’s requirements for returning: a three-year contract with an everyday player’s salary and a clause that forbids the team to option him to the minors.
For three years and $16 million (plus a team option for 2020), the Brewers, it seems, got the steal of the off-season. Thames has a .350 average and 11 home runs, tying him with Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals for the major league lead and challenging the record for April home runs — 14, shared by Albert Pujols (in 2006) and Alex Rodriguez (2007).
If Thames keeps this up much longer, the Milwaukee-inspired nickname bestowed on him this month by MLB Network Radio — the Sultan of Brat — just might stick. Yet his celebrity may still not approach what it was in Changwon, the home of the Dinos, for whom Thames hit .349 with 124 homers in three seasons.
“Over there, he was almost like a comic-book superhero — big beard, big muscles,” said Zach Stewart, a pitcher for the Class AAA Norfolk Tides…