After signing a 2-year, $7 million dollar deal this off-season, left-handed reliever Matt Thornton knew there would be pressure to perform. He has been tasked to replace Boone Logan, who signed a free agent deal to join the Colorado Rockies this winter. Thornton knew he had to get off to a strong start after coming to the Yankees after a not-so-successful couple of months in Boston, where he earned a ring, but had no part in the postseason magic last October.
Matt Thornton’s goal heading into the season is to get ahead of hitters early and often, but he’s struggled thus far. In 2 1/3 innings pitched, he’s allowed three earned runs off seven hits, while only striking out one. The problem is that he is falling behind hitters. During Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves, Thornton relieved Masahiro Tanaka, and immediately fell behind Jason Heyward 2-0, before Heyward doubled. The next hitter, Justin Upton, worked a 2-0 count as well before driving in Heyward with a single. A wild pitch advanced Upton before a ground out and a fly out ended the inning. Thornton commented:
I lose focus on attacking with your fastball…I think today was a perfect example…The off-speed is coming along…I can use it in any situation. I was talking to (catcher Brian) McCann after the outing. He feels confident with any pitch we’re throwing out there, whether it’s the four-seamer, two-seamer slider or split, but you still have to get ahead
Thornton, 37, appeared in 60 games last season between the Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, and recorded an ERA of 3.74. He is slated to be the Yankees lefty specialist. Thornton said he expects to pitch in four or five more games to fine tune his arsenal before the start of the regular season.