CLEVELAND — Hector Santiago has two bullet points highlighted as he heads home for the offseason.
The White Sox pitcher, who completed his first full season as a starter on Tuesday, wants to improve his strength and work on command. Those are the two areas Santiago said have been stressed upon in his talks with pitching coach Don Cooper. Santiago finished the season 4-9 with a 3.56 ERA in 34 games (23 starts) over 149 innings.
“This year I was in good shape enough to get through it and now just train yourself to be stronger at the end of the year and somewhere to the point where you almost overwork yourself to where you’re going to be strong enough,” Santiago said. “Pitching-wise, it was more of what we did (Tuesday) attack hitters instead of worrying about walks and falling behind in the count. Go after guys and throw more strikes with all pitches to both sides of the plate.”
Santiago struck out 137 batters this season but also walked 72. The walk total is the only quibble he has with a strong first season as a starting pitcher.
Until injuries to other starting pitchers afforded him the chance, the plan originally called for Santiago to pitch in a variety of relief roles with a potential spot start mixed in. In an effort to cut down on walks for next season, Santiago said improved command has been a focus of talks with Cooper.
“Last season we were working on improving my pitches and throwing to my strengths, and this year I think we’re going to kind of go away from that and pitch to my weaknesses and try to make them strengths,” Santiago said. “Kind of working both sides of the plate with all pitches. That’s what we’ve been talking about. ... The only thing I kind of don’t like at all is the walks. That was more of getting to a point where you’re not giving in and obviously a little bit of command issues. Everything was fine with me. For the most part I did exactly what I wanted to do besides the walks.”