With just over six weeks until opening day, Matt Thornton appears to be the early favorite to land the White Sox closer role this spring. More than likely, if the Sox have a lead going into the ninth inning during opening weekend in Texas, it'll be Thornton jogging out of the bullpen to nail down a victory.
That shouldn't make you cringe, regardless of how bad Thornton may have looked last April in the ninth inning. As Thornton says in the Tribune article linked above, he was fairly unlucky in the timing of one of the worst stretches of his career.
Maybe that stretch had something to do with pitching in the ninth instead of seventh or eighth inning, but Thornton doesn't seem to think that's the case. Thornton is a fine reliever, and if given another opportunity to close, he'll probably be okay.
If he's not, though, Addison Reed is probably in the best position to take over the ninth inning -- just like Sergio Santos slid into the closer role after Thornton struggled out of the gate.
There probably won't be a closer battle this spring -- there's not much to glean from a reliever striking out three minor league guys for a save in preseason play. But Reed can begin to build a decent argument to close with success against major leaguers in Arizona -- remember, this is a guy that has only seen 7 13 innings of work at the MLB level.
In the offseason, there was an article written that questioned the White Sox confidence in finding closers. I'm not sure why that confidence needed questioning -- the team hasn't had a hole in the ninth inning since Billy Koch imploded some nine years ago. Since then, Shingo Takatsu, Dustin Hermanson, Bobby Jenks and Sergio Santos have stepped in seemingly from nowhere to successfully finish off games.
And with the stable of power relief arms in the White Sox farm system, there probably won't be a shortage of internal closer options for years to come.