TORONTO -- Robin Ventura’s “Swiss Army knife” may be destined for a bigger role but Hector Santiago won’t get too far ahead of himself.
Although Ventura has been complimentary of how the White Sox reliever has pitched, Santiago said Wednesday the number of good arms in the bullpen helps him to remain grounded.
He recorded five outs in the seventh and eighth innings to preserve a tie on Tuesday, hours after Ventura said the left-hander has pitched well enough to earn a trusted role. But Santiago has been around long enough to know those innings are usually handled by Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom.
“I’m still in the mindset I’m the long guy and Thornton’s job and Jesse Crain is the eighth inning,” Santiago said. “Nate hasn’t been out for a few days now but he’ll be back and that kind of pushes back my job. I’m going to be ready for anything.”
Santiago should be ready for use in any situation and expect to hear his name called more often.
Through 9 2/3 scoreless innings this season, Santiago has allowed one hit and three walks and has seven strikeouts. He has done so in a variety of roles, which earned him the nickname from Ventura.
“He’s a little bit of everything,” Ventura said. “He’s closed, he’s been in between, a lefty guy, a long guy, a starter. There’s a lot of different ways you can use him. But again, when he comes in the biggest thing is he’s effective and gets the job done. How we use him from this point forward, he’s probably forcing your hand to use him a little more.”
Santiago has a scoreless streak of 16 2/3 innings dating back to last season. Right-handed hitters are 0-for-20 against him this season while lefties are 1-for-7. He also has stranded all four of the runners he has inherited.
Santiago said the way the White Sox have broken him in early has helped him gain confidence.
“It’s always good to start off in a role where you’re not thrown into the fire right away and put the pressure on from Day One,” Santiago said. “You kind of ease into it. My first outing we were down and I got three innings. After that, the hard part was (over) and then you just keep going from there. It has gotten to a little better of a role in a big spot. … They’re getting that confidence in me, which is great. But I’m just keeping go back out there and getting the job done and throwing strikes.”
Ventura said catcher Tyler Flowers, who has two hits in his last 30 at-bats, spent most of his off-day Tuesday in the cage working on his swing. Ventura said Flowers made a slight adjustment to his stance.
“It’s just trying to get more comfortable,” Ventura said. “He’s opened up a little bit just to clear himself. It’s just more of him trying to find the comfort in being able to survive and do the things you need to do. As hitters you’re always making adjustments and doing things. So Flow was good one week, he might now feel the same a week later so you keep making adjustments.”
Konerko climbs charts
After he hit his 425th homer on Monday, which ranks 46th in baseball history, Paul Konerko is just one shy of former Chicago Cubs great Billy Williams. Konerko’s homer was also his 418th with the White Sox, which moves him past Ken Griffey Jr. into 23rd place all-time homers with one franchise.
The White Sox requested waivers on Charlie Leesman on Wednesday for the purpose of giving the left-handed pitcher his unconditional release. Leesman had been designated for assignment last week when Tyler Greene was added to the 40-man roster.