Thornton ready for challenge of closing

Thornton ready for challenge of closing

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Don't look for Matt Thornton to grow any wild facial hair or develop some mean scowl in order to completely move into the White Sox closer's position. His focus is all about consistency, something the hard-throwing left-hander has learned from studying the game's great closers like Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

"They expect to get the job done and they don't have some major reaction after earning a save," Thornton said. "They go shake their teammates' hands and they do it with minimal pitches. They're making the batters swing the bat and put the ball in play. They're not trying to punch the side out. Every time.

"It's about being efficient. It's the same situation as when I come in in the seventh or eighth inning. You want to be efficient and pitch to contact and take their strikeouts when they get there. It's about keeping the game where it's at."

Even as a strikeout pitcher, Thornton believes this goal of efficiency can be achieved.

"Don't fall behind hitters. That's any time you pitch in a game," Thornton said. "It doesn't matter if it's the third inning or the ninth inning. You have to throw strikes, attack hitters and put the ball in play."

Manager Ozzie Guillen's closer decision came down to Thornton and rookie Chris Sale, with Sale now moving into a setup role. Sale understood the decision and knows chances will come up for him to close during the course of the 2011 campaign.

"If it comes up, I'm just going to go out there and do the best job I can," Sale said. "Not think about it too much no matter when my name is called or what inning. Go out there and pitch to the best of my ability.

"Now that we know Thornton is the guy at the end, our job is to get him the ball. Execute each pitch, get outs whatever inning you're out there."