ARLINGTON -- As Addison Reed and Matt Thornton warmed up and eventually entered with the White Sox trailing during Friday's 3-2 loss to the Rangers, fantasy owners across the country let out sighs of disgust as their sleeper closer candidates disappeared.
"Well, I don't know if it has eliminated two guys," said Thornton, who threw a scoreless eighth to follow Reed's scoreless seventh in defeat. "But it's clear at least two are out of the running."
Those eliminations seem to leave Jesse Crain and Hector Santiago as the two remaining candidates in the great White Sox closer mystery. And with the White Sox down by one in the bottom of the eighth inning, Santiago received the call to start loosening up in case the White Sox rallied to take the lead.
So, these instructions have to mean Santiago will become the team's first rookie closer since Bobby Jenks in 2005, doesn't it? Not according to manager Robin Ventura's postgame comments, when he said it could have been Crain or Will Ohman or maybe even Nate Jones, followed by comments from Santiago about getting ready to pitch.
"They called down and said, 'Get moving around if we tie the game or go ahead,'" Santiago said. "They just said get moving around and watch the game."
Thornton gave the same basic response about his game preparation, stating that they called and got him up for the eighth without any preordained order. The bottom line is that the White Sox might not announce their closer until he records save No. 1, and even at that point they might not make it official.
On Thursday's workout day, pitching coach Don Cooper said there would be no closer by committee. But before Friday's setback, Ventura said that matchups could determine who actually pitches the ninth.
"At some point, it's not going to be the same guy all the time," Ventura said. "And not necessarily you think ahead as a bullpen committee, but a guy coming in the ninth, it will end up being different at some points of the season. Yeah, depending on how guys do versus certain teams and matchups. If we had Mariano Rivera, I'd be able to tell everyone I have a closer."
Instead, White Sox relievers are ready for pretty much anything from the sixth inning moving forward.
"Whatever it is now, it might not be for a month or two months depending on situations and what they feel is best for the team," Thornton said. "You'll see pieces throughout our lineup and in the field and in the bullpen moving in and out and rotating around."