Thornton: "I've been smiling all day"

Thornton: "I've been smiling all day"
July 13, 2013, 10:45 pm
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OAKLAND -- Matt Thornton, obtained in a trade from the Chicago White Sox, arrived at O.co Coliseum two hours before gametime Saturday night, eager to join his new team.    

"They're a first-place team,'' gushed Thornton. "It's all about winning in this game. That's why I prepare in the off-season is to win ballgames. Unfortunately, in Chicago, we weren't playing real good all year long and never found consistency over there. But I'm really excited to come over here and help out. I've been smiling pretty much all day, knowing that I'm going to be on a first-place team and in a pennant  race down the stretch.''    

Thornton said he could help the Sox by "just being myself, go out there and be a sixth-, seventh- or eighth-inning guy -- whatever they need from me.''    

Thornton is very familiar with pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was the White Sox bullpen coach for the past five seasons before joining the Red Sox last winter.   

"Juan and I were together for a long time,'' said Thornton. "He's a good friend of mine. I love the guy to death and I'm looking forward to working with him again.''    

"He'll fit really well in this clubhouse,'' said Nieves. "He's a guy who's dedicated to his work and he's also very good against lefties. Matt has shown consistency and resiliency - absolutely he can pitch every day. He's been through the grind before and has been in situations like this. We're more than welcome to have him.''    

He got the word of the deal at 10 p.m. Friday night in Philadelphia, where the White Sox were playing an interleague series.    

"I had heard about the rumors to Boston,'' said Thornton. "The opportunity to come over here is great for; looking forward to just helping out.''    

After 10 years in the American League, Thornton knows the hitters well and that will help the transition to a new team.    

"One of the things I was worried about,'' he said, "was if it was a National League team (I was traded to), I really don't know a lot of those guys over there. Staying in the league I know, I've faced these guys and most lefties in the league 10, 12, 15 times.''    

When it was mentioned that among all the current lefthanded hitter in the American League East, Thornton had only given up one career homer to any of them, he quickly offered: (Travis) Hafner, hanging slider?''    

He also quickly recalled an appearance last summer at Fenway in which he faced Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, remembering the result with astounding detail.    

Manager John Farrell said Thornton's role has changed some recently, going from a full-inning set-up man to more of a matchup lefty and welcomed his arrival.    

"It was clear when Andrew (Miller) went down,'' said Farrell, "the desire to strike early and the sense of urgency became a little greater.''