ARLINGTON, Texas – White Sox slugger Frank Thomas will be activated from the disabled list Monday, making him available to play for the first time since offseason surgery on his left ankle.

Thomas hit just .190 in 11 games on a rehabilitation assignment, but manager Ozzie Guillen said Sunday that Thomas would rejoin the team for its Memorial Day game at home against the Los Angeles Angels.

“He’s healthy and ready to help this team,” Guillen said. “Our offense will be better. He’ll take the pressure off a couple of guys.”

Guillen said he didn’t know if Thomas, who last played for the White Sox on July 6, would be in the starting lineup.

The White Sox have the best record in baseball (33-17) without Thomas, even after losing 12-4 Sunday in Texas. It was their third straight loss to finish a 4-5 road trip.

Thomas was 8-for-42 during his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Charlotte. His only homer came in his last game there Saturday night, when he also had three RBIs.

Braves call up Johnson; Mondesi loses spot

ATLANTA – In a move that could lead to the end of Raul Mondesi’s career, the Atlanta Braves called up outfielder Kelly Johnson to be the team’s new starting left fielder.

Mondesi, hitting only .211 and struggling physically, was told he lost his starting job in right field. Mondesi was given a couple of days to decide whether he wants to remain with the team in a lesser role.

Johnson, hitting .310 with eight homers, 22 RBIs and seven stolen bases for Triple-A Richmond, began his minor league career as an infielder but has spent most of this season in the outfield.

Johnson was 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI on Sunday and threw out a runner at the plate in his major league debut.

Another rookie, Ryan Langerhans, started in right field and drove in two runs.

Giants designate Herges to bring in Hawkins

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Giants designated popular reliever Matt Herges for assignment Sunday to make room for new setup man LaTroy Hawkins.

Herges and right-hander Jim Brower knew the decision would probably come down to one of them after the Giants acquired Hawkins from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.

Herges was 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 21 appearances this season. He allowed four runs and five hits in Friday’s 9-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, but had a 2.12 ERA in 19 outings from April 7 to Thursday.

“It was one of the toughest (decisions),” Giants assistant general manager Ned Colletti said. “He’s a man of great heart, soul and integrity. You always hate to part with a man like that, no matter what line of work you’re in.”

The Giants have 10 days to either trade Herges or release him. General manager Brian Sabean was in negotiations with a team to trade him, but that club wanted to get rid of a player the Giants couldn’t use.

Sabean is willing to pay a chunk of Herges’ salary if it improves the team’s chances of helping him land elsewhere. Herges was re-signed to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in December 2003 and is due to earn $1.5 million this season.

“He’s still a major league pitcher and I hope someone will take advantage of him being out there,” Sabean said.

Herges has a handful of teams he would like to join.

“I’m not bitter at all,” he said. “I wanted to hug them. It’s all good. The tough part is leaving really good friends. I loved every minute here.”

Herges has been a positive veteran presence for some of the young Giants pitchers. Noah Lowry has sought his guidance many times.

“Hergie’s been an outstanding teammate and good friend,” Lowry said. “It’s disappointing to see him go. It’s an unfortunate situation he ended up being the odd man out. It’s upsetting, but at the same time, it’s a business.”

Hawkins was 15-3 with a 2.00 ERA as the primary setup man on Minnesota’s 2002 and 2003 AL Central championship teams. The 31-year-old right-hander had 25 saves for the Cubs in 2004 and made 21 relief appearances this season.

But he failed to hold the job as the closer in both seasons, blowing three of his seven save opportunities this spring before Ryan Dempster replaced him on May 9.

The Giants believe a fresh start will help Hawkins, whose velocity has been up around 96 mph at times this season.

Giants manager Felipe Alou will use him regardless of who is at the plate.

“It’s very important,” Alou said of Hawkins’ role. “We lost the game in the eighth inning yesterday. We’ve lost many games in the eighth inning the last couple years with different guys pitching. When you get a guy of that stature, that lefty-righty thing is going to stop right there.”

AP-ES-05-29-05 1621EDT


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