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Sore elbow bothering White Sox lefty Matt Thornton

Matt Thornton

Matt Thornton

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Updated: March 21, 2013 6:35AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The injury bug bit the White Sox for the first time in camp Tuesday. Left-hander Matt Thornton was held out of drills with a sore elbow. Thornton underwent an MRI exam, which showed some inflammation but no structural damage, manager Robin Ventura said.

Ventura described the 36-year-old reliever’s issue as discomfort.

“He just said it didn’t feel right,’’ Ventura said. “We have so much time, it’s just safer to slow him down and get him out of drills, make sure he’s comfortable with it.

“You’re concerned every time a guy has that. I don’t know what level it’s at, but the beauty is you can give him this time off, and he can catch back up if there’s nothing wrong with him.’’

Thornton had Tommy John surgery in 2003. The only time he was on the disabled list with the Sox was with left elbow inflammation during the 2010 season.

Thornton, the Sox’ all-time leader in appearances and holds, is signed through 2013 with a club option for ’14. He was 4-10 with a 3.46 ERA in 74 appearances last season. He surpassed 60 appearances for a club-record sixth time.

Thornton came to camp about 20 pounds lighter than last season. That stemmed from eating healthier foods, but he said last week he did it because he didn’t feel as strong as usual pitching on consecutive days.

OK with changes

Right fielder Alex Rios wouldn’t mind staying in the No. 5 spot in the order. He had success there in 2012, so why mess with a good thing.

Rios has no qualms about batting third, though, as Ventura has suggested might happen.

The left-handed-hitting Adam Dunn batted third last season, maybe not the ideal spot for a low-average hitter (.204 with a .333 on-base percentage thanks to 105 walks).

Ventura said it wouldn’t hurt to space out Dunn and leadoff man Alejandro De Aza, his only lefties unless outfielder Dewayne Wise is playing.

“If you have success in a spot in the lineup, you might not want to change that, but I might actually be better off third with [Paul] Konerko and Dunn behind me because I might get better pitches,’’ Rios said.

“I really don’t mind. I’ve always felt that hitting is the same in any spot.’’

The same goes for Dunn.

“Yeah, whatever. Makes sense [to switch it up],’’ Dunn said. “It’s never been a big deal to me.

‘‘Other than not getting an extra at-bat every once in a while, that’s about the only difference.’’

Rios agreed that it could make sense to use his speed in front of Konerko and Dunn.

“Those are guys who are going to drive the ball,’’ Rios said.

“With people who can move on the bases, that might help us score more runs.’’

This and that

Wise had a stiff neck, so he also was kept out of drills. He said he fell asleep in an uncomfortable position Monday night but will be ready to go Wednesday.

† Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday, threatening John Danks’ and Chris Sale’s scheduled sessions pitching to hitters.

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