Having reached a deadline that no one else was aware of the existence of, to name the winner of a position battle that he is sole determiner of the significance of, Ozzie Guillen rewarded Matt Thornton for his exemplary service by naming him the closer of the Chicago White Sox for 2011.
Now what does this even mean?
Ozzie has done more than his share to obfuscate the meaning behind his most recent declaration. When the issue was brought up at the beginning of Spring Training, Guillen claimed that 'closer' is a term that could be applied to a reliever in any inning, and then Kenny Williams went and backed him up to a degree by stating that the best reliever should handle the highest-leverage situation.
But wait, that's confusing. That wouldn't mean anyone could be the closer, could it? Surely, you wouldn't have someone like...I don't know, Will Oh--
"Regardless of all the closer stuff, it doesn't matter," Ohman said,
"because whatever inning it is, you're the closer for that inning."
Even in naming a closer, Ozzie still resisted the urge to be straight-forward about it.
"I talked to him about it. A good percent of the
time, he will be the guy."
A good percent? Is '20' a good percent? The optimized bullpen can never really die, can it?
So we don't know exactly what Guillen will do with the workload of the bullpen, but maybe that's not important. Thornton wanted the closer title, and reiterated as much publicly as much as one can do without someone saying "Let it go, dude". He's been the best reliever on the team for three seasons, and Chris Sale has done nothing this Spring to make anyone think he isn't the best guy now. He's earned this mild level of acknowledgment and appeasement, and now that's Ozzie's granted it, he'll probably get a better response when he tries to stretch his use to whatever the hell it is that he actually wants.