Santos earning more late-inning situations
Two consecutive scoreless outings earning reliever trust
CHICAGO -- For the first time in Sergio Santos' pitching career, covering basically just one year since converting over from the infield, the right-hander worked in back-to-back games.
He pitched one scoreless inning during Thursday's loss to Cleveland and worked two-thirds of an inning during Friday's 11-inning setback to the Twins. As a result of those two scoreless efforts, Santos might have put himself into the late-inning relief picture.
Santos entered Friday's contest to face Delmon Young with the bases loaded and two outs, trying to keep Minnesota's lead at one run. He started against Young with a slider and finished Young off with a slider, producing a swinging strike three to get out of the jam.
"This kid has no fear," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Santos.
"I'm a 100 percent kind of pitcher, so with my fastball, I throw it 100 percent," Santos said. "With my sliders and changeup, I try to throw them 100 percent. And what I've just kind of learned is taking a little bit off and kind of trusting what the ball's going to do as opposed to trying to manipulate and trying to make my slider cut or slurve or whatever you want to call it, make my changeup drop or move. So I just figured I'm going to let the grip kind of take over and hopefully it'll work out."
After touching 95 mph on the radar gun on Thursday, Santos was up in the 96- and 97-mph range on Friday. That result was good news for Guillen, who doesn't want to overuse the right-hander, although Santos was ready to go again Saturday.
"Yesterday was my first time going back-to-back so now I'm looking forward to maybe going back-to-back-to-back," said Santos with a smile. "Once that comes, I'll try to tackle it and I'll give it whatever I have."
"If he continues to pitch like that, it's a huge help," Guillen said. "We will monitor him. I have confidence in him, but we have to be easy with him and not fall in love with him and overuse him."
Buehrle celebrated for his defensive effort
CHICAGO -- Prior to Saturday's contest, Mark Buehrle officially received his 2009 Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award. It's the first of his career, and Buehrle joins Jim Kaat (1974-75) as the only White Sox pitchers to win such an honor.
"Getting a Gold Glove as a pitcher is kind of tough," said Guillen. "When you look at a pitcher, you are looking at how he performs winning and losing instead of looking at a guy who is out there helping himself with the glove.
"That's an honor, no matter what position you play. When you win the Gold Glove, you are the best in your position. It's one thing I always preach. Good defense makes you good teams. When you help yourself, you give the opportunity to keep the other team close."
Guillen won his only AL Gold Glove at shortstop in 1990.
White Sox are ready for more thrillers
CHICAGO -- Guillen expects his team to play a number of games decided by one or two runs this season, as they have in the three games since Opening Day.
"Once in a while, we are going to [rout someone]," Guillen said. "But that's not my expectation."
Those close games lead to a number of late-inning matchups used by the White Sox manager, and could lead to a 13th pitcher being needed. As of Saturday, utility infielder Jayson Nix was the only player on the active roster who has not gotten into a game. But Guillen is holding off on the call for an extra arm.
"Right now, we should have 14," said Guillen with a smile. "Not because we need him, but because of the way we play. We play nine [innings], and it's a little different."
Thornton in demand early on for Chicago
CHICAGO -- With two outs recorded in the eighth inning of Friday's extra-inning loss, Matt Thornton stayed on pace to pitch in all 162 games for the White Sox this season. Clearly, Thornton will get a rest at some point, but with the great stuff he has been featuring, he looks certain to surpass his career-high of 74 games pitched in a season set back in 2008.
Denard Span and Orlando Hudson were the victims on Friday, with Thornton shattering both of their bats to record easy infield popouts and strand the go-ahead run at second base. Left-handed hitters such as Span are 1-for-10 against Thornton this year, with six strikeouts.
To maintain this level of consistent and pretty much constant excellence, Thornton used extensive workouts during the offseason to prepare.
"Obviously, getting a good base and working really hard in the offseason," Thornton said. "I'm very dedicated. I missed two workouts all offseason, and those were on the Wednesday and Friday around Christmas.
"My wife, it drives her nuts, but it's what I do and she understands. You set the base and then you try to maintain it. If I struggle, the first thing I look at is my work in the last day or two and if I skipped anything. I pride myself on that work ethic."
Skipping sideline sessions in-between appearances also will help hold steady Thornton's arm strength. If he doesn't throw for three days, he'll throw a sideline on the third day.
"But I won't throw one just to get work in," Thornton said.
Judging by the first-week results, Thornton won't have to worry much about down time this season.
White Sox keeping faith with Linebrink
CHICAGO -- Scott Linebrink entered Friday's contest with a one-run lead to protect in the seventh and promptly walked two of the three batters he faced. When asked if it's more mental than physical for the veteran reliever, at this point, manager Ozzie Guillen said that question was only one Linebrink could answer.
But Guillen was not critical of Linebrink's first effort this season, adding Saturday morning that he was ready to use the right-hander again if the situation dictated.
"We believe in him," said Guillen of Linebrink. "We still think he can do the job. That's the reason he's still here. I made the comment last year and this year, if Linebrink throws the ball well, this bullpen is going to be very effective. I think yesterday was a lot better than what I saw in the past. He was around the plate."
Third to first
CHICAGO -- Skipper Ozzie Guillen presented the following words of advice to his team before Saturday's 2-1 loss, wisdom holding up after the defeat. "One thing about this game, when you try to dig out of the hole too quick and you are desperate, you are digging the hole deeper," Guillen said. "Relax and have confidence in yourself. You are here because you have talent and things are going to turn around. When you start pressing and try harder, it all goes backwards." ... Freddy Garcia threw two bullpen sessions before his first regular-season start, but said the key on Saturday simply was keeping the ball down. ... A Baby T-Rex threw out the first pitch to John Danks Saturday, representing the 'Walking with Dinosaurs' Tour. ... The White Sox have lost five straight to the Twins, dating back to last year, and are 1-11 in the last 12 games. ... Chicago is 1-4 for the first time since 2006, when the team finished 90-72.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.