BOSTON -- Don Cooper didn’t hold back Saturday afternoon when he assessed Hector Santiago’s start from a day earlier.
The White Sox pitching coach showed visible frustration in the dugout on Friday night when Santiago was knocked out after only 3 2/3 innings, the result of a high pitch count. Santiago walked five batters and hit another and was in constant trouble throughout the start. Cooper hinted Santiago may have been tired, but he didn’t let that excuse stand as a reason for the first-year starter’s performance.
“Walks suck. Walks suck. Walks suck,” Cooper said. “Unacceptable. That’s not a good game. That’s a messy game. That wouldn’t work in A-ball. It’s not going to work against any good team in the big leagues. Unacceptable. Not good. I expect to get better, not do that. You know, heck man, we gave the other team many opportunities. Good pitchers only give you one shot at them. Every inning last night was a problem so it wasn’t a good game by him.”
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While it wasn’t a good game, Cooper knows it but was one bump in the road in a strong season.
Santiago has a 3.43 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning. He has all he needs to be a successful pitcher and has made many strides after pitching mostly in relief before this season.
Cooper knew Santiago would run into rough outings from time to time. But it’s because of Santiago’s proximity to becoming a dependable starter that Cooper was so wound up on Friday.
“I want it to happen so bad that that’s where my frustration comes in,” Cooper said. “I want him to succeed. We are making real good head way there and you know sometimes players get pissed off and frustrated as well and so do coaches. That’s where I was last night. Now I’m back to going back to work and in five or six days he’ll be out there again and we have to try to improve. That’s what we are always trying to do.”
While Santiago said his issues were more mental on Friday, Cooper believes other factors may be at play. Santiago threw 52 strikes and 49 balls on a night in which he established a new mark for innings pitched in a season.
“It’s making me think that maybe he’s hitting a little bit of a wall physically and we are going to have to come up with something,” Cooper said. “I expect guys to be able to get up on Christmas Eve and throw (it) over the plate and make them swing the bat.”