Hector Santiago arrived at U.S. Cellular Field and took a wrong turn out of habit.
The left-hander, who was dealt to the Angels in a three-team trade last winter that netted the White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton, returned to the South Side on Monday. And upon entering U.S. Cellular Field he turned left toward the White Sox clubhouse, where he spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
"I walked in and I walked to the wrong clubhouse," Santiago said. "It was like a routine, like I knew where I was going already."
Santiago threw 224 2/3 innings for the White Sox between 2011-2013, posting a 3.53 ERA while splitting time between the bullpen and starting rotation. But he's had a bumpy tenure in Southern California, posting a 4.82 ERA before being optioned to Triple-A in late May.
He was recalled for a start June 10 and shut down the first-place A's over six shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight. In 15 2/3 innings since his return from the minors Santiago has a 2.30 ERA with three walks, 16 strikeouts and no home runs allowed.
Santiago said he put too much pressure on himself early on with the Angels, trying to prove himself to a new organization.
"Earlier in the year I feel like I was trying to strike the first guy out with the first pitch of the game," Santiago said. "I was trying to beat everybody with every pitch instead of throwing strike one, throwing strike two, trying to pitch to contact which was all I did over here with the White Sox.
"They taught me try to hit bats, try to hit bats. I went over (to the Angels) and was trying to miss bats, trying to strike everybody out."
Santiago had a chance to say hi to his former teammates and coaches Monday, and was seen chatting with Robin Ventura and Paul Konerko before a strong thunderstorm forced the postponement of Monday's game. Santiago mentioned, too, he had a chance to see clubhouse manager Vinnie Fresso, head trainer Herm Schneider, bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen and third base coach Joe McEwing, among others.
"This is always going to be home for me," Santiago said. "… There's a friendship there like family."