GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The plan to ease Matt Thornton into the 2013 season has been in place long enough to do in his chances to play again for Team USA. The veteran White Sox reliever said he’s quite OK with the choice to not play in the World Baseball Classic after he was invited in January.
By then, Thornton and pitching coach Don Cooper had mapped out a plan to help the left-hander, who appeared in 74 games last season, slowly prepare for this year. Though he’d love to have the experience again, Thornton said a late start to his throwing program would have required a quick ascent to be ready in time for the WBC, which begins on March 3.
“I would love to do it but at that point I'm just playing catch,” Thornton said. “We were going to be easing into spring training, with the long spring training, and getting ready, basically trying to peak at the end of spring training being ready for the season and minimizing my workload. Since the last WBC I’ve been in 250-plus games I’d guess in the last four years. For my performance for this team, I thought cranking it up too early was not in my best interest or the team’s best interest.”
Thornton, who has a $6 million club option for 2014 left on his contract, made five appearances for Team USA in 2009. He had a 7.71 ERA and struck out five batters in 4 2/3 innings. The experience still resonates with Thornton, who said the choice to not play again was difficult. His favorite memories are traveling with his wife, who at the time was pregnant with the couple’s first child, and playing alongside Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones, Dustin Pedroia, Curtis Granderson and Co.
“I had a blast,” Thornton said. “Met a lot of guys you normally don’t get to interact with at the time. Guys you didn’t know at all, you got to know these guys and try to win ballgames with them instead of trying to beat them all the time. The experience of getting to wear USA on your jersey was a great memory for me. I still have all my stuff from that. It was hard to say no.”
Day after good for Danks
John Danks continues to progress as he felt good enough to get through an upper body workout Friday a day after his latest bullpen, he said. Pitching coach Don Cooper said Danks will throw again on Sunday. Danks threw for 11 minutes on Thursday, his first bullpen in front of Cooper and the team this spring.
“One of the biggest problems before surgery was the ability to bounce back,” Danks said. “It’s just another level, being able to bounce back and fit in again.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t think Hector Gimenez has missed out on much after visa problems delayed his arrival at camp by six days. Gimenez, who arrived Friday, is the top candidate for the team’s backup catching position. With extra time in camp allotted for the WBC, Gimenez should be able to catch up quickly, Ventura said.
“It’s a long spring training,” Ventura said. “He was playing winter ball. It’s not like he wasn’t in shape or not doing anything or didn’t want to be here. You get him in here, get him in the fold and he looks like he’s been here the whole time.”
-- Pitcher Jake Peavy discussed plans Friday for an upcoming athlete-based musical performance to take place in June or July in Chicago.
-- Matt Thornton has shed 15-20 pounds this offseason with a new diet. “Making some lifestyle changes, whatever I can do to make my season easier,” Thornton said.
-- First baseman/designated hitter Adam Dunn also arrived on Friday, two days before position players are required to report to camp.