CLEVELAND -- The 2007 White Sox bullpen was filled with so many hard throwers and talented young arms that people were looking for nicknames to bestow upon a unit that figured to be dominant.
By the end of April, after a strong first three months, that same high-octane bullpen (Matt Thornton, Bobby Jenks, Boone Logan, David Aardsma, Andrew Sisco, Nick Masset and Mike MacDougal) fell apart in what turned out to be the worst season under the recently ended Ken Williams/Ozzie Guillen eight-year regime. The current relief crew, unscored upon over its first 8 2/3 innings before Hector Santiago surrendered a ninth-inning homer to Jose Lopez in Monday's 4-2 victory over the Indians, has that same special feel as a group.
But Thornton, a member of both bullpens, doesn't believe this present unit with rookies Santiago, Nate Jones and Addison Reed and Zach Stewart in his first full big league season will meet the same ugly fate as five years ago.
"I can't put a finger on it, but this group has a much better feel right now," said Thornton, comparing 2012 to 2007. "It definitely is a very positive group we have out there. We are willing to do anything it takes to win games.
"These guys just seem to know how to pitch and compete and go out there and go about their business the right way. Some of the guys from the '07 bullpen have gone on and had nice careers elsewhere, but again, this just has a different feel."
Thornton has been impressed with this group of young hurlers since the first day of Spring Training. They all came in without big league guarantees, although Reed was going to have to pitch his way out of a spot, and not only got themselves noticed but earned the right to break camp with the team.
"Hector went from probably the long guy coming in to Spring Training to the closer, that's how good of a spring he had," said Thornton of the team's new closer. "The condition he came in, the energy he came in with, how well he pitched. His stuff is pretty awesome. He's a unique pitcher who is fun to watch."
Now, this group of seven gives manager Robin Ventura the ability to shorten the game to six or seven innings, not to mention possessing versatility at the back end of the bullpen. Thornton, as one of the veteran leaders with Jesse Crain and Will Ohman, knows there will be growing pains to endure but doesn't seem worried about the young charges surviving.
"Pitching back-to-back games or on four out of five days. Getting your brains beat in one time and how you bounce back after that, because it's going to happen no matter how good you are," Thornton said. "It's not fun.
"Will, Jesse and myself have had our fair share of failure combined. We can help them out with that and get them ready for the next day and let them know they can forget it and move on."
Alexei addresses Ozzie's comments on Castro
CLEVELAND -- Alexei Ramirez is a Cuban native, but with his wife, Mildred, being a native of the Dominican Republic, he did not defect when coming to the United States to play baseball.
The White Sox shortstop rarely if ever talks about Cuban politics or dictator Fidel Castro. But he did take time on Monday to briefly address former manager Ozzie Guillen's comments referring to the despot as someone he loved and respected in an upcoming Time Magazine article.
"His opinion is not the same opinion I have," said Ramirez through translator and White Sox director of cultural development Jackson Miranda on the Guillen issue. "Everybody is free to have an opinion.
"It's one of those that there are some people who like Castro and some people who don't. In Miami, it's definitely of a different thought frame."
Although Ramirez had not heard or read Guillen's comments, he felt a public apology that Guillen is set to deliver on Tuesday could go some way in putting the matter behind him.
"Apologizing is definitely a big first step," Ramirez said. "Again, I feel that everyone has their opinion, but I also feel that people should be forgiven. So, if he's going to apologize, then I feel that hopefully it will be accepted. I would just say whatever his thoughts, whatever his comments, those are Ozzie's comments. That's more on him."
Dunn gets start at first; Konerko DH's
CLEVELAND -- Manger Robin Ventura returned Brent Morel to the second spot in the White Sox batting order for Monday's series opener at Progressive Field. He also moved Paul Konerko to designated hitter and gave Adam Dunn his first 2012 regular-season start in the field at first base.
"Get him in there now, and Paulie will play there tomorrow," Ventura said. "It's just getting in late, letting Paulie DH, get out on the field and I'm fine with that."
Ventura liked the way Dunn was moving at first base during Spring Training.
"I'd rather have him there than in left field," Ventura said. "So we're going to keep him at first."
Third to first
Kosuke Fukudome will get a start, most likely in left field, for Tuesday night's game.
The White Sox took a rare round of pregame infield Monday after finishing batting practice.
Grammy award-winning artist and actor Common will throw out the first pitch prior to Friday's home opener against the Tigers, with Jack Ingram performing the national anthem Paul Konerko's seventh-inning double during Monday's 4-2 victory over the Indians tied Luke Appling for second in franchise history with 3,528 total bases.