GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The way veteran reliever Matt Thornton sees it, the Chicago White Sox had a solid season in 2012, and when it comes to the bullpen, anyway, they are even further along than a year ago when spring training opened.
“Last spring training we had a lot of guys fighting for jobs and Nate Jones came in and won a job,” Thornton said. “We knew who he was but he was still off the radar and came on with a great spring training and established himself as a great arm for us.”
But Jones’ presence isn’t the only factor that solidifies the White Sox's bullpen. Thornton says that Addison Reed's emergence in the closer role has established a definitive pecking order.
“It’s that first full big-league season, the stress of being in contention all year long,” Thornton said. “Getting that under their belt is huge for those guys. Now situations won’t overwhelm them. Not that it did before, but they know what to expect, they know what September brings, they know what August brings. It’s a long year and they will be ready for it a little more this year.”
The entire pitching staff and the catchers are set to undergo physical exams Tuesday and take the field for their first workout later in the afternoon.
Picking up where they left off last year, won’t be so simple, though. Bullpens are notoriously unpredictable with talented ones sometimes struggling and unheralded ones sometimes moving to the forefront.
“It’s about finding the right pieces and the right guys,” Thornton said. “You’re going to have a couple of tough breaks and things won’t look that pretty, but over the whole long haul of a season if you do the job eight out of 10 times, nine out of 10 times, you’re doing a pretty good job out there.
“It’s all wait-and-see. That’s the game of baseball. You can’t judge who's doing what, and that’s the way the game has always been and we hope we can hide in the weeds again like we did last year, but finish a little stronger this year."
The pitching staff is being looked upon as the team’s strength and Thornton sees the starting rotation getting the club off to a positive start before leading into the bullpen.
“With Chris (Sale), a healthy John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy coming back, (Jose) Quintana, what he did last year -- he’s another guy who learned from a full season by getting out there and going through the grind of it,” Thornton said. “You throw those starters out there and we can match up with anybody. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to be a part of.”