DETROIT -- Matt Thornton was part of a 2005 Mariners squad that featured Ron Villone, George Sherrill and Eddie Guardado as a rare quartet of southpaws in the bullpen. Guardado didn't really count, according to Thornton, since he was the closer and out of the matchup mix.
So, the left-handed combination of Thornton, Chris Sale, Will Ohman and Hector Santiago is not quite as unusual as it seems for the 2012 White Sox. Nonetheless, the White Sox could eventually choose to move a veteran such as Thornton and Ohman if the modified rebuilding process goes all in.
That possibility hasn't crossed Thornton's mind, especially with the team proving to be competitive through the first five weeks of the campaign.
"I prepare myself every day, no matter what's going on, what rumors are swirling around," Thornton said. "People probably will look into it a whole lot more than what it is.
"Right now, we are a couple of games out of first and trying to get on a run here and break our rut we've been in the last 10 days or so. But that's all we are focused on is winning ballgames. That's all I ever do, no matter what goes on."
Thornton has one year left on a two-year, $12 million extension, with a $6 million club option for 2014. Ohman is owed $2.5 million in 2012.
Sale ready to get to work in bullpen
DETROIT -- One day's worth of perspective elevated Chris Sale from dejected and disappointed to anxious and excited in regard to his move from the White Sox starting rotation to closer.
"I'm not as down as I was yesterday," Sale said. "I still have a great opportunity to pitch and do what I love to do. That's playing Major League Baseball. The adrenaline that gets going a little bit, once you get out there and get it done a couple of times, I look forward to it."
The 23-year-old with top-of-the-rotation stuff had his first foray as a starter cut short on Friday, when manager Robin Ventura announced that an organizational decision was made to move the southpaw back into the bullpen. Sale was experiencing soreness in his arm, but as Sale admitted Saturday, he thought it was just normal soreness from his move to a starter.
"Like I said, it's just tender. It doesn't hurt when I throw. It's tender to touch and it takes a little bit to get loosened up," Sale said. "I thought it was just soreness. It was just sore to me and doesn't hurt or anything.
"They thought it might trickle into something else. I didn't see that at all. I just saw it as typical soreness after throwing. Like I said, those guys know what they are doing. They've been there and done that. You have to listen to them."
No MRI was done on Sale's elbow, and Sale doesn't believe his unique pitching style or mechanics have anything to do with the soreness. He has been pitching the same way since college.
A decision also was made that a trip to the disabled list was not needed. It was simply about managing Sale's workload, which the White Sox believe is easier to do with him coming out of the bullpen.
"Obviously, you are out there and you want to put 100 percent into every pitch because the one pitch you take a little off, it might be the pitch to come up and bite you," Sale said. "I guess putting 100 percent into 10 to 20 pitches is where I need to be for right now instead of 120 pitches."
"There were a lot of people discussing it, so it's not like we were winging it," Ventura said. "There was all this discussion and I'm sure that [disabled list possibility] is probably still out there as far as in discussing it to see if that would be the best way to do it. The biggest issue is we're trying to think of him first instead of us."
When asked if he could start Sunday, health-wise, Sale smiled, paused for a few seconds and then said he could. But he quickly added that any pitcher or competitor will give the same answer.
Instead, Sale will be in the bullpen, where he had a somewhat nerve-wracking return on Friday.
"I was a wreck. I was out there pacing back and forth," said a smiling Sale. "I was like, 'I'm so nervous out here. I can't handle this.' It was a good time getting back out there and watching the game with the guys and watching the game from out there -- getting my bearings back."
Santiago looks to thrive in middle-relief role
DETROIT -- The reaction of Hector Santiago on his move from closer to middle relief was somewhat akin to Chris Sale's reaction on his move from starter to closer. Santiago certainly was enjoying his time as the ninth-inning choice but is ready for whatever the White Sox have in mind.
"That's their call," Santiago said. "I have no control over what they say or what they do."
Although manager Robin Ventura doesn't see starting in Santiago's immediate future, it's a job the left-hander eventually would like to tackle. He doesn't feel the need to stretch out presently in order to pitch anywhere from two to five innings, and will try to use his big league lessons learned on future outings.
"You can't make as many mistakes as you could this spring," said Santiago, who has thrown 45-50 pitch bullpen sessions, which he used to explain his confidence in transitioning seamlessly to long relief. "At that point, hitters are still trying to get ready and they weren't ready. Here, you make a mistake, and they're going to make you pay for it."Santiago was called to close out the ninth inning of Saturday's 3-2 victory against the Tigers. But after allowing the tying and go-ahead runners on base, Ventura brought in Addison Reed, who struck out Austin Jackson for the final out.
Thornton, Ventura reflect on tough loss
DETROIT -- Until about 3 a.m. Saturday morning, Matt Thornton analyzed what happened during his blown save caused by Jhonny Peralta's walk-off homer in a 5-4 loss to the Tigers on Friday night. What Thornton came up with is that he threw 13 pitches where he wanted and basically made one mistake.
"I really did," Thornton said. "I went back over it in my mind, and every pitch that I threw was exactly what I wanted. I was trying to go into Peralta there. I thought it was just up and I didn't realize it was that much up out over the plate.
"[Peralta] said that he was looking for a fastball away. So, I was making the right choice with the pitch selection, but I didn't execute one pitch. I was really hot last night, but it's one of those things where you come in ready to go and prepare yourself and hope you get another chance today."
Manager Robin Ventura held the same bounce-back attitude as Thornton, but also agreed that those tough losses stick a little longer.
"You don't think about games you win as much," Ventura said. "But you lose, you look at it differently because one move here or there ... a lot more decisions go into managing rather than playing.
"Not that it's going to change any results. But you owe it to yourself and everyone to think through it and make sure you're thinking properly."
Third to first
Paul Konerko's solo blast in the seventh inning of Saturday's 3-2 win over the Tigers was the 402nd of his career. Konerko needs five homers to reach 400 for his career with the White Sox. Konerko hit seven home runs while with the Dodgers and Reds in 1998. He joined the White Sox a year later. Alejandro De Aza has reached base in 22 of 27 games this season. Konerko has reached base in 23 of 26. Gavin Floyd has allowed four runs on 12 hits over his last 21 innings, striking out 21 and walking three. The White Sox ended a five-game losing streak at Comerica Park and improved to 3-11 over their last 14 in Detroit. They are 6-4 against the American League Central and 2-3 during their stretch of 15 straight in the division.