Notes: Guillen likes gamer Swisher
Outfielder drives in three Tuesday, including winning run
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Nick Swisher's two-run, walk-off double coming against the Angels on Tuesday afternoon at Tucson Electric Park points out a major reason as to why the White Sox mortgaged part of their future to acquire the clutch-hitting outfielder.
But a conversation Swisher had earlier Tuesday morning with manager Ozzie Guillen illustrates his impact equally as much.
"He told me early today he was tired of losing. He [doesn't] like to lose," Guillen said of Swisher. "We lost [three] games in a row, so [he said], 'Let's go.' I think it's one of the biggest reasons we [brought] Nick here."
Swisher played all nine innings in left field on Tuesday, a decision referred to by a sarcastic Guillen as a great move by the manager. If Jerry Owens gets selected as the White Sox center fielder and leadoff man, Tuesday's lineup was a prototype for regular-season things to come.
Joining Brian Anderson as the only White Sox position player to go the distance against the Angels didn't bother Swisher, who admitted he has a lot of energy and needed to "burn some off." As for his declaration against a prolonged losing streak, Swisher added how winning should be the primary goal at any stage of the season.
"No one likes losing, even if it is a Spring Training game," said Swisher, who drove home Mike Rouse and pinch-runner Chris Getz. "We take a lot of pride in that. We had a great start to the day, Paulie's [Konerko] swinging the bat real well and there were a bunch of good things that happened.
"For us, we'll take that and go with it," Swisher added.
Delayed but on track: Even with offseason elbow pain slowing down Matt Thornton at the outset of Spring Training, the left-hander always maintained he felt great and was just a little behind the other pitchers. Thornton proved the first point true during his Cactus League debut on Tuesday, striking out two over one scoreless inning.
Thornton yielded a leadoff single to Howie Kendrick, who swiped second and moved to third on a groundout. But Thornton fanned Kendry Morales and Mike Napoli swinging to end the threat.
"That's always fun," Thornton said of facing a scoring threat in his first appearance. "I'll be fine getting ready for the season. I'll be able to get another couple inning outings and then get a two-inning outing and the back-to-backs.
"It was nice having some deeper at-bats where I felt good. It felt pretty good coming out of my hand, and I'm happy with my first outing."
The White Sox southpaw threw a few breaking balls to supplement his fastball that touched 94 mph on Tuesday. It's a plan for his secondary pitch that Thornton wants to incorporate more this season.
"Everyone's seen me now, and they know I'm going to throw fastballs," Thornton said. "So, that's what I'm really working on this spring."
Arm action: Jose Contreras considers his normal arm angle as kind of sidearm, but dropping down too low in 2007 cost the big right-hander in the velocity department. Following Tuesday's strong effort against the Angels, in which Contreras allowed one earned run over three innings, Contreras indicated he intended to continue mixing up angles but also wanted to keep his delivery a little higher in 2008.
"I want to pitch more three-quarters or higher," Contreras said through translator Henry Madrid. "This year I'm working on three-quarters, regular angle and down a little more. I'm trying to keep the pitches right in the zone."
Regardless of the angle, Guillen has been impressed with the way Contreras has thrown the ball in Arizona. Contreras was clocked between 91-93 mph on Tuesday, leading Guillen to believe his late January SoxFest prediction of Contreras being able to bounce back from a subpar 2007 campaign is off to a great start.
"Outstanding. This is the best I've see him throw in a little while," Guillen said of Contreras. "We bring him out of that bullpen late last year and he tried to get it back together.
"Jose has been more aggressive since Spring Training [started]. I think we sent a message to him how we want him to get it done, from the beginning be aggressive, and see what happens."
Rotation alteration? With Javier Vazquez returning to Puerto Rico for the birth of his daughter, who arrived at 7 pounds, 11 ounces, it looks as if Nick Masset will take the right-hander's start Friday at home against the Diamondbacks. Masset originally was scheduled to travel to Tempe for split-squad action against the Angels, a game in which Jon Garland is listed as Los Angeles' starter, but Charlie Haeger now will make the road start.
"Ozzie wanted me to stay here and throw with them, so I'm pretty excited," said Masset, who worked three scoreless innings Sunday in Hermosillo, Mexico. "They are keeping me on every five days and extending my innings, keeping me on pace to see what happens."
Around the horn: A 3-for-3 effort Tuesday raised Konerko's spring average to .714, giving him 10 hits in 14 at-bats. "One thing about Paulie, we have to make sure he stay the same place and don't try to change anything when he's 0-for-4," Guillen said of Konerko. ... The White Sox lead all Major League teams with 58 runs scored and 32 doubles.
Up next: The White Sox visit Hi Corbett Field on Wednesday, with Mark Buehrle making his second spring start. Reliever Scott Linebrink also is scheduled to work two innings.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.