By Adam Hoge-
U.S. CELLULAR FIELD (CBS) Hector Santiago has experienced pretty much everything a pitcher can in a major league season, but he’s about to face his biggest challenge yet.
In an effort to give the entire rotation an extra day of rest, Santiago will start Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field. With the White Sox holding on to a one-game lead over the Tigers in the A.L. Central as of Tuesday morning, it’s undoubtedly the biggest pitching appearance in the young left-hander’s career.
“I’m excited about it. I’m pumped,” Santiago said Tuesday before the White Sox faced the Indians in Game 2 of the three-game set. “Just them even considering me as a spot starter in this situation right now that we’re in, I’m ready to go. It’s something you live for and you always want to be out there when your team needs a win.”
Santiago arrived at Camelback Ranch back in February just trying to make the team. He left as the team’s closer, but that only lasted a few short weeks at the beginning of the season. He’s done just about everything in the bullpen and even got sent down to Triple-A Charlotte for a while. Now he’ll be starting one of the most significant games of the season.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, coming out of the spring, getting the job as closer, that’s something you definitely don’t expect when you’re going in just trying to make the team. And then it kind of didn’t work out. I was there for a couple weeks, but then went to the short relief role, then long relief, and a couple spot starts, got sent down. It’s pretty amazing how in one day everything can change.”
Neither Santiago nor manager Robin Ventura have any concerns about the left-hander’s stamina, despite making the start on short notice out of the bullpen. Ventura only expects to get five or six innings out of Santiago.
“He’s been able to adjust back and forth,” the manager said. “He’s done a lot of different things for us. I expect him to be fine.”
As for the rest of the rotation, Jake Peavy will be pushed back to Thursday’s game against the Rays. Jose Quintana will pitch Friday, Gavin Floyd Saturday and Chris Sale Sunday with an important extra day of rest.
“Watching Chris last night, you know he’s at a different point that he’s been at in his career,” Ventura said. “So it’s just good to get him an extra day. Whenever that’s happened, he’s been a little stronger.”
Pitching Sale Sunday also lines him up for a possible Game 1 start in the ALDS should the White Sox win the division.
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