He has made six straight scoreless outings, striking out nine and allowing
only two hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched.
"I think I'm at the point where I'm pitching like I knew I could pitch. I
believe in myself, and [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] and [pitching coach, Don]
Cooper believe in me, too," Thornton said.
Thornton was acquired over the offseason in a trade with Seattle, where he
went 0-4 with a 5.21 ERA in 55 relief appearances last season. He has now
been working steadily with Cooper for the last four months and feels like
the work is finally starting to pay dividends.
"My control is back now. I'm throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters
right away," Thornton said. "That was always my Achilles heel. I would fall
behind... and get in a jam and not be able to get out. I'm avoiding that now, for the most part. I'm kind of pressing their hand to swing the bat a little
Thornton has also recorded three wins and six holds this season.
Pushing the deadline: Guillen and general manager Kenny
Williams had what Guillen called a "conversation" prior to Saturday's game
about the trade deadline.
Guillen said that no moves were imminent, but that he and Williams are
always looking to improve the team's pitching.
"I always worry about pitching," Guillen said. "If you pitch, you will win.
If you do not pitch, I don't care how good you are on offense."
Guillen said he felt confident about Williams' ability to make aggressive
moves and find Guillen top players.
"It's up to your coaching staff and myself to say we need this or we need
that," Guillen said. "As soon as we say something [Williams] tries to do the
best he can to continue to have success. Right now, we're going to be real
aggressive and we'll see what's in the market."
Seeing the future: As a 2003 Futures Game alumnus, Neal Cotts has some
advice for this year's participants.
"Enjoy it," Cotts said. "You get to play with [around] 50 top prospects, those
are going to be players that are going to be in the big leagues in a couple
years. It's a time to relax and enjoy the experience and have fun playing."
Cotts said the experience opened his eyes to what he thought playing in the
big leagues would be like.
"I think it gets you kind of adapted to what a big-league clubhouse was and
the atmosphere around it. In terms of people in the stands it's similar,"
Cotts said. "But the big-league level of play is totally different stuff."
Charlotte's third baseman Josh Fields and Kannapolis outfielder Anderson
Gomes will be representing the White Sox organization.
Tim Redding pitched eight innings and gave up only
one earned run on two hits and nine strikeouts, but the offense couldn't
get him a win in Triple-A Charlotte's 1-0 loss to Syracuse. ... Double-A Birmingham's
Cory Aldridge helped the Barons to a 10-5 win over Huntsville going 3-for-4 with
three RBIs. ... Chris Kelly went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in
Class A Winston Salem's 3-1 victory over Potomac.
Up next: Jose Contreras (9-0, 3.31 ERA) looks to close the first half
out with his 10th win of the season before he heads to the All-Star Game.
Contreras is also trying to extend his regular-season win streak to 18.