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Santos, Guillen differ on pitcher's key issue

MINNEAPOLIS – Struggling White Sox closer Sergio Santos threw off flat ground Tuesday and hopes the session goes a long way toward regaining his confidence.

Santos has said he is having issues with his slider. Manager Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, said the bigger issue is Santos’ inability to locate his fastball. It has added up to three consecutive shaky outings for the former infielder turned pitcher three seasons ago.

Santos has given up a combined eight runs over his past three outings. He lost last Wednesday’s game against the Mariners and blew the save and took the loss Friday against the A’s. He recorded the save Sunday against the A’s, but was on the ropes and needed a blown call at first base to help seal the victory.

“If I’m throwing good ones on flat ground and in the bullpen, it will give me that much more confidence when I go out there that it’s back and I feel good,” Santos said of his slider. “I don’t have to think about it anymore, because the more you think about it you compound it and then you start adding things like ‘I’m doing this wrong and that wrong.’ Just keep it simple.”

Guillen, though, thinks there is more than just tweaking a slider to get Santos back on track.

“The slider he can’t find the feel, but his fastball is all over the place too,” Guillen said. “When you throw 95-96 [mph], your slider is a secondary pitch and it doesn’t have to be perfect. But when your fastball is 96-97 around the plate and you’re behind and you have to come slider and that’s not going to make you effective.”

Guillen is concerned with Santos’ new approach on the mound, where he is on the mound, looks to the ground, quickly looks up to get the sign then delivers the pitch.

“He put his head down, looked up and there goes the pitch,” Guillen said. “Wait a minute. I’m not concerned about the slider or fastball, I’m worried about location and how you prepare yourself to handle yourself in that situation.”

Guillen said the common denominator of all the great relievers is location and he doesn’t think Santos can have success in that area if he is rushing himself on the mound. Even Santos agrees that his problem isn’t with the actual pitches themselves.

“I think it’s more mental than physical, yeah; I think pitching is all mental,” Santos said. “I think what’s in between the ears is more important than mechanics and all that stuff because if you’re good between the head then you power trough innings and get through innings when you don’t have your best stuff.”