Talking With Matt Thornton
Here is a transcript of Tuesday’s twitter fan call-in with White Sox reliever Matt Thornton. If you like the idea of talking directly with White Sox players, follow us on @whitesox.
Fan 1: What would it take in spring training to get you back to what you used to be?
MT: Last year was a really rough start for me. The first six weeks or so of the season were not exactly up to par with what I used to do. Going back to what I did to what I did for the second half of the season and what I do best, attacking the hitters and going after them with my best stuff. I think I got a little picky at the beginning of the season. Guys like Sergio Santos stepping up and doing some great things on the mound. You don’t see that too often, seeing three open spots. We have some quality relievers on the back end and some vets who know how to get outs. And obviously we didn’t have a lot of great veterans last year, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of that bullpen. It’s going to be a fun year, and I think you’re going to see some great things from (Addison) Reed and (Hector) Santiago for sure.
Fan 2: I’m a pitcher in my small baseball league and I just wanted to know your favorite thing for conditioning? I’m looking for something to add to my workout routine.
MT: My major focal point in my workouts is my core. I do some workouts that are pretty strenuous, not too many people can get through it, and I’ve got a lot of pride in that. And obviously legs, running, and my number one thing for a pitcher is a long toss. I’m a big believer in long toss, and I’m talking an extreme long toss where you’re crow hopping and throwing the ball as hard as you can and as long as you can. That’s what I’ve done
my whole career, and that’s how I think I’ve maintained my velocity. You know, I’m pushing my mid 30s now and long tosses are really the only way to replicate that feeling of getting that extension and building that arm strength and arm speed.
Fan 2: Now how far do you throw when you throw a long toss? 120, 150 feet?
MT: No, a lot farther than that. There are a lot of times in the off season that JJ (Putz), he’s my throwing partner in the off season, and we’ve walked it off, we’re pushing 300 feet. And I’m talking about you build to that point, you don’t go out there and do that from day one. We started off in December going about 120 feet, and about twice a week we’ll stretch it out good and push as far as we can. Those good days you start getting out really far and you’re pushing 300 feet long toss. It’s something we both believe in and have done our whole career.
Fan 3: Hey, how are you doing? World Series this year?
MT: Hey, thanks for calling in. There’s everything in the cards, we’ve got some great players just looking for some guys to bounce back and get back to those career numbers. We are that team who’s going to jump back and get after it, you know?
Fan 3: Are you closing this year?
MT: They haven’t said anything in particular of which way they are going to go, between Jesse Crane, me and Addison Reed. We will just have to see how spring plays out and we’ll go from there.
Fan 3: Can you hit?
MT: No, no, no I gave that up a long time ago.
Fan 3: How about (new manager Robin) Ventura?
MT: All of the staff has been great. It’s been a lot of fun to get to know the guys and get a feel for them. And they have fun, but they expect us to do a lot of things and play the game the right way and play it hard. So they’re pushing us every day and hopefully this year is one of those years that we beat ourselves with the little things.
Fan 4: I’m pretty sure the bullpen this year [inaudible]
MT: It was a luxury last year, you know, you had Sale, Crain, Santos, Fraser, myself. We had a large number of great relievers in the back of our bullpen. This year we’re more like a normal major league team where you have three or four of your go-to guys for when you’re winning games or have tie games and that type of thing. And the young guys, it’s a matter of them stepping up and doing their job in situations that are tough.
It’s going to be a little bit of a question mark, but that’s what our team is right now. We’re a question mark across the board, and we have to step up and do things to compete in the division.
Fan 5: I was just wondering if you do long tossing?
MT: I’m a big believer in long toss, actually. It’s one of those things where I started throwing back in December but I wasn’t getting much farther than 120 feet. And as January goes along about twice a week I would get extreme long tosses out, and I would be pushing tosses up to 300 feet. It’s something I think has helped me maintain velocity in my career. I’m a hard thrower and JJ is a big believer himself. I was more of a basketball player in my youth. I didn’t get into long toss until I was a pro baller. It was something that really helped me as a starter to really get the blood flow and stretch it out. It’s all about reading your body and how you feel and what you get out of it.
Fan 6: Hi Matt, how are you? I’m just wondering, what’s your favorite thing about being a White Sox player?
MT: The city of Chicago. Everything about it. From our fans to our fan base. It’s a little disappointing we haven’t been that great the past few years, but the loyal fans are still there. They are dedicated to it and they’re coming around, waiting for us to turn that corner and start putting a great product out there on the field. Of course, the city of Chicago and the restaurants there. You can eat at a different place every night of the
year. I love that time of coming up to Chicago and being in the mid-West again.
Fan 7: Are you going to be the closer this year?
MT: They haven’t named it just yet, but it’s a competition between Jesse Crane, Addison Reed and myself. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, and things didn’t go my way in that category last year. You know, I’m working hard and I’m preparing myself.
Fan 8: I wanted to ask him, is he going to be the closer?
MT: That’s been a popular question today. It’s a situation right were it’s an open competition at spring training. Me, Jesse Crane and Addison Reed. Reed is still trying to get his feet wet. Jesse and I have a lot more experience than him. But you know, they are going to make their choice, and pick who’s best for the team. If they think I’m better in a situation and they need me. I want to win, I want the opportunity to make the playoffs, and that’s all I care about, so whatever they need me to do.
Fan 9: I just wanted say we love you, and can’t wait to see what you and Ventura do this year. Always a Sox fan, never going to the north side.
MT: Alright, we’ll try to make it easier on you this year.
Fan 9: You guys make it easy to watch every year. I’ve been coming to games since I was 5 years old. Nothing will stop me from coming to watch.
MT: Great, thank you for all the support.
Fan 10: Hey Matt, how’s your shoulder feeling?
MT: Great! I’m feeling good, feeling strong. Looking forward to getting a few games here this spring before the season starts.
Fan 10: Great, how’s the weather our there?
MT: It’s been great so far. It will start warming up here, so it will be nice to get out of here.
Fan 10: Are you working on any new pitches to add to the repertoire?
MT: Yeah, I’ve been trying to get a little bit more consistency in my big breaking ball. It’s kind of more of a curve ball I used towards the end of last year a lot. And then I’ve been trying to get my cutter slash slider we’re going to call it. That’s been my focus for the past couple of weeks.
Fan 10: Where are you clocking in at on the fast ball?
MT: I’m not sure, I’m probably going to guess around 94-95 MPH in spring training.
Fan 10: What do you think the key to your smoothness is?
MT: They broke me down a long time ago and built me back up. Got me mechanically the right way, and a lot of hard work in the off season. Strong core, legs and arm.
Former White Sox manager Jeff Torborg will be in camp the next few days as a special guest of manager Robin Ventura. Torborg was Ventura’s very first major league manager, leading the White Sox from 1989-1991. It will be good to see Jeff around Sox camp, especially with his son, Sox minor league strength coach Dale Torb