By David Schuster-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) Talk about a swing man on your pitching staff. That’s exactly the role that Hector Santiago will fill on this year’s White Sox team.
Santiago started last season as the White Sox closer but eventually was replaced by Addison Reed. Santiago then became the long man out of the bullpen, but at the end of the year he got some starts and came up with a gem in Cleveland. In that game against the Indians, he struck out 10 and may have found his niche as a starter. His proven versatility makes his role in 2013 unclear, but make no mistake, he will make the major league roster and be an asset for Don Cooper and Robin Ventura.
Santiago could have pitched for his native country, Puerto Rico, in the upcoming World baseball Classic but decided the timing wasn’t good. He knows that if John Danks isn’t ready to start the regular season that he will be counted on heavily as a starter. Thus, he decided his place was better suited for staying with the White Sox during the spring.
Santiago credits Cooper for his building success. He says that Cooper constantly rides him for just “pounding the mitt” and “getting the ball over the plate.” Velocity is not as important as location and Cooper’s best example was Mark Buehrle, who rarely threw over 88 miles per hour but had incredible success with his location.
Santiago wants to emulate Buehrle and, although he may never throw a perfect game or a no hitter, he does have the capabilities to be a very effective control pitcher.