Posted March 22, 2012 on AP on Fox
Chicago White Sox reliever Matt Thornton is eager for a chance to be a closer again. Thornton is among the candidates to be the White Sox closer. He struck out one and allowed a hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings in Chicago's 16-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday. Adam Dunn hit two home runs - a two-run home run and a grand slam off Royals starter Bruce Chen. Dunn went 2 for 3 and now has four homers this spring. ''Where he's at and what he's doing and his mind and what he brings to the ballpark every day, that's the stuff I'm happy about,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. Chen allowed 10 runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one. The White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski and the Royals' Billy Butler also homered. Thornton wants to show he can pitch in the ninth inning after struggling in the closer role last season. He blew his first four save opportunities and lost his job as closer. ''There's no doubt I'd like an opportunity to do it again,'' said Thornton, a left-hander who was an All-Star setup reliever in 2010. Thornton wouldn't use bad luck as an excuse. In his second blown save last season, he allowed five runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Tampa Bay Rays, but none were earned. ''Even after mistakes are made or a broken bat hit drops in, you have to make a good pitch after that,'' he said. ''Not that I gave in, but I made mistakes at the plate that hurt me pretty bad at times. It's about pitching with conviction and attacking the hitters.'' Thornton joins Jesse Crain and top prospect Addison Reed as closer candidates. But Reed is inexperienced - he has pitched just 7 1/3 innings in the majors. He allowed two runs in 1 2/3 innings Thursday. Crain has a 3.30 ERA in 447 1/3 major league innings and had a 2.62 ERA with the White Sox last season. But he has been out with a strained right oblique. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday. Ventura said the roster will likely be set by April 3, when the White Sox play an exhibition against the Houston Astros, but the closer likely won't be announced by then. Ventura said Crain still has time despite the injury setback. ''He hasn't thrown in four or five days, but that doesn't put him out of it,'' Ventura said. ''I know how he throws. You're trying to get the best situation and set up the bullpen the best way you can.'' Thornton said he's more focused on getting ready for the season than the closer competition. ''Whatever role they decide they want us in, all the guys up for it are capable of doing the job,'' he said. Pierzynski hit a solo home run, his second of the spring, off Chen. Butler hit his third home run, a solo shot off White Sox starter Zach Stewart, a candidate for the bullpen. Stewart allowed two runs in five innings. The White Sox's Paul Konerko went 2 for 3 with a double. Catcher Humberto Quintero and left fielder Jason Bourgeois each had a single in their Royals debuts. The Royals acquired both in Tuesday's trade with the Astros for minor league pitcher Kevin Chapman and a minor league player to be named later. Notes: It was a split-squad game for the Royals. ... Ventura has been impressed with Eduardo Escobar, who went 2 for 3. Escobar, an infielder, is a candidate for a bench role. ... Rather than starting against the Royals, White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy allowed a run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers in a minor league game. He struck out six. ... White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who had a tooth removed Wednesday, hit three home runs in a minor-league game.

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