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

Sale takes it in stride, makes adjustments

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Sale was probably the least surprised guy in the White Sox clubhouse to hear that manager Ozzie Guillen named fellow left-hander Matt Thornton as the closer to begin the season.

"He's the right guy for the job,'' Sale said Sunday. "Oh yeah. And he's been good for a long time and obviously he's shown it this spring, too.

"My job now is to get the ball to him. If I can get him the ball we will be in a good spot.''

Sale, a first-round draft choice nine months ago who saved four games in four chances for the Sox late last season, has been working his way through command issues during his first spring training.

During his bullpen session with pitching coach Don Cooper on Saturday, Sale experimented with throwing from different sides of the rubber.

"It went well,'' he said. "I took a lot from it. It really helped me out a lot, just getting a feel for getting fastballs down and away, or down and in. Locating each pitch and getting a feel for it. Trying to move myself on the rubber where it best fits me for my control.

"At first it was a little change for me, missing on the extension side, getting the fastball a little too in. [Cooper] told me to focus more and let the ball do the work. From then on out it worked well.

"We're going to probably throw from the third-base side against righties and the first-base side against lefties, maybe mix it up.''

Thornton, who saved eight games in 10 opportunities last season, when he made the American League All-Star team as a set-up man, received the news from Guillen on Saturday.

"I pride myself on being consistent and being available every day that I can throughout a season,'' said Thornton, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract extension earlier this month. "And I've done that the past three years. I've had success in the setup role and we had a great closer beforehand [Bobby Jenks] and they moved on, so they had to make a big decision and they decided to go with one person.

"I'm prepared and ready to go."

Sale will likely get closing opportunities if Thornton needs a break after back-to-back workdays. And right-hander Sergio Santos, who has not been scored on in six spring appearances, may get the ball in the ninth if a string of right-handed hitters are due up, Thornton said.

Thornton was also a first-rounder, with the Seattle Mariners, but he struggled with his control and eventually had Tommy John surgery. He took this weekend's news in stride.

"This isn't really the big highlight of my career,'' he said. 'This is just something they decided to entitle me with right now. I think the contract extension says more about me and what I've done than being named the closer and that's something that can change at any given time.. If they feel later in the year that I'm more valuable in the seventh or eighth inning or being used any other time, it' doesn't bother me if they make changes.

"I expect myself to have success any time I pitch and prepare myself for any situation they give me."


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This page contains a single entry by Daryl Van Schouwen published on March 20, 2011 11:30 AM.

Ozzie: Thornton to close was the previous entry in this blog.

Setback for Peavy: Rotator cuff tendinitis is the next entry in this blog.

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