PEORIA, Ariz. — In a trade that revealed the Mariners had run out of time, if not patience, with Matt Thornton, the pitcher was traded to the Chicago White Sox this morning for outfielder Joe Borchard.
The swap also showed that Chicago felt they had to move Borchard, like Thornton, a former No. 1 draft choice who was out of options.
Thornton, 29, was Seattle's top pick in the 1998 June draft. But the left-hander never realized the potential he had shown with a fastball that reached 96 mph. He was 1-6, with a 4.82 ERA, in 74 games for the Mariners the past two seasons, and had a 14.14 ERA this spring in four games, two of them as a starter in place of Joel Pineiro while Pineiro was at the World Baseball Classic.
Borchard, 27 and picked 12th overall in the 2000 June draft by the White Sox, never reached expectations. In addition to be ranked among the top college baseball players while at Stanford, he also played quarterback for the Cardinal during 1999 and 2000 football seasons.
In 102 games with the White Sox spread over the past four years, the switch-hitting Borchard hit only .191 with 12 homers, one of them traveling 504 feet on Aug. 30, 2004 off Philadelphia's Brett Myers, the longest homer ever hit at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
Borchard is hitting .324 this spring, with two homers and seven RBI in 14 games.
Asked where Borchard might fit on club that seems to have four outfield spots locked up, including the top sub job for Matt Lawton, hitting .440, manager Mike Hargrove said, "We can carry four or five outfield spots.''
However, general manager Bill Bavasi noted that Lawton's spot is not threatened. "Lawton is an important guy on this club.''
That means that Borchard could make the team for his bat, as much as his outfield defense, which rates highly at all three positions, with both the speed for center and arm for right.
If he is coming in for a bat off the bench, he could be in competition with Roberto Petagine and Greg Dobbs for a spot on the club.