Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Thornton passes final test, as Sox bullpen is about to get stronger

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0235099-2jpg-974945ff60f641e4_large.jpgCLEVELAND - There was a certain calmness in the voice of Matt Thornton Wednesday morning, just minutes after he threw an all-out simulated game in the bullpen.
The left elbow felt strong. Strong enough for the White Sox reliever to declare himself ready to come off the 15-day disabled list and be ready for the start of the Boston series on Friday.
Thornton's hope was the calm he was feeling was just a prelude of a perfect storm that opposing teams were about to experience.
"That's what you try and do - peak as September is going along,'' Thornton said. "We have 30-some games, and you want to be peaking to make that push, win the division and take it from there. It's going to be a fun month.''
Made so only if the bullpen is in fact about to become fully operational.
With Thornton returning on Friday, a Thursday offday for the likes of Bobby Jenks, Chris Sale and Sergio Santos to rest up on and then J.J. Putz [right knee] on schedule to come off the DL in Detroit, all under the shadow of the offense adding slugger Manny Ramirez, the misery the Sox were suffering through the past few weeks - especially with the bullpen in shambles - was dispersing.
"Any time you have two of your main bullpen pieces go down this time of year, it's tough for those other guys to eat those innings,'' Thornton said. "I get back this weekend and J.J. is right behind me, we'll get back to full strength and back to what we're doing before.
"Having all your pieces is really good for any team. The way we're playing right now ... with the addition of Manny Ramirez, we're on track to make a nice little run here.''
What will also be key for the Sox bullpen is the emergence of rookie Chris Sale, who has been forced to grow up with Thornton on the shelf.
"The funny thing about it is that now I know we can use Sale in any situation,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said of the lefty. "Before I was kind of worried about using him in the eighth or the ninth. It was always Thornton. Now, if Thornton needs a day off I will be more secure and have more flexibility with Sale because I know he can get people out too.''
The rest of the league is learning that, too.
"I know [Cleveland's Shin-Soo] Choo from the Mariner days and I told him, 'Yeah, I'm not going to be able to face you this series,' '' Thornton explained. "We were joking back and forth, but I told him, 'Don't worry, there's someone a lot better than me out there right now.' He was like, 'What are you talking about? Oh yeah, that kid that throws 100.' I told him, 'He throws a hundred and then has a nasty slider.' Sale really does have electric stuff and I think when we get everyone back we'll be ready for this September run, which is really important.''

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The Sox bullpen gets stronger..and Leonnn's gettting larrrrrgerrr!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on September 1, 2010 12:28 PM.

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