Santiago lends a hand in Newtown healing efforts

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Santiago lends a hand in Newtown healing efforts

Hector Santiago visited with Newtown, Conn. school kids nearly a month after the shooting, but evidence of the tragedy remains.

Earlier this month, the White Sox pitcher drove just over an hour from his home in New Jersey to visit students at St. Rose of Lima Church. As he exited his vehicle, Santiago recalls he immediately noticed a police car on campus. A short while later, Santiago, who is in competition for the fifth spot in the Sox rotation this spring, noticed another police car -- and then another.

"Every morning when they go to school they have to see that," Santiago said at SoxFest on Sunday. "Even if it's over, it happened, the tragedy is done, they're still affected by it. I'm sure they didn't have three police cars by their school (before). That can bring back memories."

Santiago wasn't directly affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. None of his family members was killed or injured in the catastrophe.

But living in Newark, N.J., Santiago's grade school had a view of the New York City skyline. He remembers how he could see smoke from the Twin Towers from his classroom and how a teacher's assistant believed her son, who worked at the World Trade Center, was in the buildings only to later learn he was safe because he had fallen asleep on the train and was late to work.

So as he flipped channels on Dec. 14 and came across news of the massacre that left 27 dead, including 20 first-graders, Santiago -- who was still in Puerto Rico -- began to experience the same emotions. Friends whom he was staying with raced out of their apartment to pick up their children from school. Santiago knew he needed to get involved. Five days later, he and his advisor decided they would try to arrange a visit.

More than a month later, Santiago was in Newtown but not certain what he should say to a group of mostly fourth through eighth graders. He was advised to introduce himself, tell the children his story, how he made the majors after six seasons in the minors and open the floor to questions. After his introduction, Santiago fielded questions for nearly an hour.

"At first you don't know what to say, what to expect, what the reaction will be," Santiago said. "They took off. It was 45 minutes of straight questions, no break, no hesitation. There were hands all the over the place. It was awesome."

Just like that, Santiago accomplished what he set out to do -- give the students a break from their reality. For 45 minutes there were no camera crews, no police cars and no stories revealing another detail of the tragedy.

"They were all smiling," Santiago said. "There were no sad faces. It felt like they didn't think about that when I was in there. They forgot about anything else outside of it, learned about baseball and talked about it. Just watching all those kids have fun was awesome."

Ex-White Sox Jesse Crain hosting charity event featuring Paul Konerko, George Brett

Ex-White Sox Jesse Crain hosting charity event featuring Paul Konerko, George Brett

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ex-White Sox pitcher Jesse Crain is hosting a local charity golfing event featuring Paul Konerko, Matt Thornton and Hall of Famer George Brett among others.

Crain, who pitched for the White Sox for three seasons and was an All-Star in 2013, and his wife, Becky, recently created the Crain Family Foundation to benefit children. 

The couple is hosting the Swing into Spring event at Top Golf in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Monday night, which is designed to benefit the Tandem Resource Center, Arizona RBI Baseball and Autism Speaks. Crain expects between 25-30 current and former players will participate in the event, which is open to the public.

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"Me and my wife had wanted to start a foundation for a long time with the platform that we'd give back to kids any way possible," Crain said. "We just want to be able to help kids in whatever capacity, whether through medical, hardships or whatever it may be."

Crain, who was at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday, said planning for the event began in October. Though he had wanted to begin a foundation during his playing career, Crain said after planning the event he knows he wouldn't have had the appropriate amount of time while he was an active player.

Among those scheduled to attend are Cody Ross, David Aardsma, Jonny Gomes, Nick Punto, JJ Putz, Brandon Webb, Justin Morneau, Matt Lindstrom, Scott Feldman, Nate Jones, Mark Melancon, Denard Span and Chad Qualls. Crain also hopes to convince a few more current White Sox players. He said reservations for the event or donations can be made through Crainfamilyfoundation.org.

Todd Frazier out with left oblique strain

Todd Frazier out with left oblique strain

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier has been sidelined with what he's describing as a left oblique strain.  

Frazier — who produced a career high 40 home runs and 98 RBIs last season — said he injured himself swinging on Monday. White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Frazier is day-to-day and the club would take advantage of the extra time on the spring training calendar this season.
 
The veteran also said he expects to be cautious with the injury and thorough.

"Just felt a little tightness in my left side," Frazier said. "That's what spring training is for, you've got to just be careful. (Athletic trainer Herm Schneider has) been working with me the past day and a half. I don't feel like it's anything that serious, but we have so much time. Let's take a break, take a few days off and hopefully it keeps getting better and better.

"It's something I've dealt with before. But at the same time, from what I've heard they're not anything to mess with. So let's take a couple days and see how it is after a couple days and go from there."

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The White Sox begin their exhibition season on Saturday with a contest against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the team's regular season opener isn't for another 5 1/2 weeks, which should give Frazier ample time to rest, rehab and prepare. The White Sox open the 2017 campaign at home on April 3 against the Detroit Tigers. 

"He's been working good," Renteria said. "I just saw him, he's smiling. He's day to day and we'll re-evaluate and see where he's at.

"We'll back him up. We're taking it day to day. We'll see where he's at before I can determine how far back we can push him back."