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They can’t afford another slow start

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Manager Ozzie Guillen loved to throw the “it’s not how you start, but how you finish’’ cliché around with the best of them in the past, but he knows 2011 is a little different.

Like about $125 million different.

With the highest payroll in franchise history, the Sox’ start might mean everything. That’s why Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Carlos Quentin and Juan Pierre are playing entire Cactus League games lately, and it’s only mid-March.

“They want to,’’ Guillen said of his players getting in a full workload. “First of all, the schedule, it’s a very tough schedule in spring training. We have split squads, like three of them, day and night.

“That’s the type of ballclub we have. That’s the type of guys we want. They don’t cry or complain. They play whenever we want them to play.’’

The main method to the madness, however, is making sure they’re ready to go all out on Opening Day, rather than in June.

“We started pretty bad the last couple of years,’’ Guillen said. “Flat, tried to pick it up a notch, and we couldn’t get it going. I don’t want to say last year but the few years when I handled this club. We couldn’t get it going, then we get to the point where maybe we say it was the cold weather, maybe another thing. We’re going to try something different to see if it helps us.’’

A dress rehearsal?

The Sox marched Matt Thornton out to the mound for the ninth inning of the 6-1 victory Sunday over the Los Angeles Dodgers, but before jumping to conclusions, Guillen said the closer decision hasn’t been made.

At least not by the organization. Guillen said early in camp he wanted Thornton to get the job.

“Thornton is a personal opinion,’’ Guillen said. “There’s one thing in mind. Give him a new job or keep him where he was and put [Chris ] Sale [as the closer]. But I got to listen to my pitching coach; I got to listen to what Kenny [ Williams] wants; the coaching staff has an opinion. I can go with either one. I don’t worry about any of those guys. No matter what I pick, I’m going to pick a good one.’’

Cuts coming

Guillen said a second round of cuts will be made after today’s game against the San Diego Padres.

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