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Sunday, March 6, 2011
Thornton deal doesn't end battle at closer

By Doug Padilla

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Just because Matt Thornton signed a two-year, $12 million extension on Sunday that could grow to $18 million if the White Sox activate his option year, it doesn’t mean the closer battle has been decided.

Thornton is the favorite to eventually land the role full time, but guys like Chris Sale, Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain remain in the mix.

Matt Thorton
Matt Thornton and the White Sox agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract extension on Sunday.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,” pitching coach Don Cooper said when asked if a decision at closer had been made. “We’re still trying to work on what we need to get right with each guy. I don’t believe that’s going to be talked about at least until our next meeting and I don’t even know when that’s scheduled.

“Our bullpen looks like its strength is the flexibility. We feel like anybody can go out there and close a game on a given day who’s throwing the best on any given day. I also believe they will show us who’s throwing the best. They answer our questions.”

On a personal level, Cooper was glad to see Thornton rewarded with his new contact.

“It’s nice to see guys being successful and making money, and it’s well deserved,” Cooper said. “This is not a gift, obviously, it’s deserved, through his work, and effort, and all that stuff. That’s what I like about it. Certainly [it’s for] his performance on the field, what he’s done, how he works. I backtrack it to that, how he’s prepared. Every single day he’s here early, and it’s nice to see hard work rewarded.”