GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox bullpen alignment from the seventh inning through the ninth of Thursday's 3-1 victory over the Dodgers had a regular-season feel to it.
Southpaw Hector Santiago started the seventh and faced left-handed-hitting Andre Ethier. He was replaced by Addison Reed after Ethier reached via an error, and Reed was followed by Jesse Crain in the eighth and Matt Thornton to close out the victory. It seems like a winning setup, but manager Robin Ventura cautioned not to read too much into the order in which these pitchers were used at Camelback Ranch.
"Yeah, we're not making any decisions today off that," said Ventura of this crisp victory played in two hours and 34 minutes. "But I'm happy with all of them.
"Again, we're putting them in there to get their innings and get them work. None of that could mean anything in terms of where they exactly were today."
Then again, it could end up being exactly how the White Sox relief crew is used once the regular season begins next Friday, with Will Ohman also in the mix. Pitching Santiago and Reed in the seventh takes the pressure off a pair of rookies who both have closer stuff, but a pair the White Sox might not want to throw into the pressure of the ninth while hoping to contend.
They both have had extremely impressive springs, earning notice from their teammates as well as Ventura.
"Yeah, it looks good," Crain said. "Whatever order they do it, they've thrown the ball really well and it will be exciting to see what happens in the regular season."
"Addison has been amazing all spring. Hector has been just outstanding," said Thornton of the rookies who completed back-to-back throwing days Thursday. "Both are throwing strikes and throwing offspeed [pitches] for strikes and going right after guys. They are fun to watch."
If Thornton is selected as closer, he seems poised to bounce back from last April's 0-for-4 start in save situations. Thornton will pitch Sunday in Arizona and Tuesday in Houston, continuing to work on his offspeed stuff to go with his high-octane fastball.
And the veteran southpaw doesn't need any advance warning to take on the closer responsibilities.
"You can tell me Opening Day. I don't care," said Thornton. "It doesn't matter to me. They will figure that out here soon enough."