OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Thornton spent eight seasons with the White Sox and set a franchise for appearances by a relief pitcher. He was part of the fabric there.
When general manager Rich Hahn called Thornton on Friday night and told him he had been traded to the Red Sox, the conversation was a tough one.
“I had a good relationship with everyone over there. But at the same time, I had heard about the rumors to Boston,” Thornton said Saturday after joining the Red Sox during batting practice. “The opportunity to come over here was great for me.
“I've been smiling pretty much all day, knowing that I'm going to be on a first-place team in a pennant race."
The Red Sox needed a lefthanded reliever once Andrew Miller was lost for the season with an injury. The upcoming schedule also played a role in the team’s acquisition of Thornton, who had a 3.86 earned run average in 40 appearances for Chicago.
The Red Sox play 10 consecutive games against American League East foes after the All-Star break. Thornton has considerable experience against those teams and their lefthanded hitters.
“Staying in the league that I know, I’ve faced most lefties in the league 10, 12, 15 times,” Thornton said.
Thornton said his transition would be eased by his familiarity with Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, the former White Sox bullpen coach.
“Juan and I were together for a long time,” he said. “He’s a good friend of mine. Love the guy to death and looking forward to working with him again. ... I'm excited about all of this."