White Sox decide on closer, choose Thornton over Sale

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The dust has settled on the White Sox’ internal battle for ninth inning duties.

According to Brett Ballantini of CSN Chicago, manager Ozzie Guillen announced Saturday in camp that veteran left-hander Matt Thornton will serve as the club’s primary closer when the regular season opens next month.

Thornton was labeled as the “frontrunner” for the ninth inning gig as early as February 3, but Guillen and Co. wanted to give young southpaw Chris Sale a shot to prove himself this spring and so they turned it into a kind of competition.

Thronton, 34, has posted a 3.00 ERA and a 5/1 K/BB ratio in six Cactus League innings this spring. Sale, 21, has allowed seven runs — six earned — over 8.1 innings for an ERA of 6.48.

“I talked to Thornton,” Guillen said. “I said he would get the chance to be the closer … A good percent of the time, he will be the guy … Matt Thornton earned it. We have a lot of confidence [in him]. He is the guy [who] can do the job better. Sale, we [would] have to put a lot of things on his shoulders. This kid pitched well last season, but we would put a lot of pressure on him to be the closer.”

Sale will serve as an eighth inning setup man behind Thornton this year. He might also get spot starts here and there if there’s an injury to someone like Jake Peavy in the Pale Hose starting rotation.