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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Options aplenty with versatile Santiago

By Doug Padilla

Santiago
Hector Santiago's versatility makes him a valuable part of the Sox's pitching staff.
CHICAGO -- Because of his versatility as a pitcher, debate still rages as to what is the best role for Hector Santiago moving forward, especially when considering the Chicago White Sox's offseason needs.

What's not in debate, though, is his willingness to stand up for the team. The left-hander put that on display Tuesday night when he pitched despite feeling weak from an infected root canal that kept him bed for most of the previous 24 hours and caused severe swelling on the right side of his face.

"I almost felt bad letting him go out there the way he was looking and probably feeling," manager Robin Ventura said. "That was more my fault. For him to gut through it, he's a tough kid and he was ready to go out there."

Looking toward next season, there are plenty of options when it comes to Santiago. He's showed he can be a viable starter moving forward and all of this year's experience should only help to make him even better in the future.

But the White Sox still will need left-handed relief help to fill the void left when Matt Thornton was traded to the Boston Red Sox last month.

"That's part of what makes him good is he is versatile, but right now he has done well as a starter and those are valuable things also, probably more so than having him going back into a relief role right now," Ventura said. "I don't see him doing that."

If Santiago isn't a left-handed relief option, the White Sox will address that area in the offseason either in the free-agent market or through trades.

Speaking of trades, Santiago could also be used in a trade package to bring back some offense. As it stands now, the four slam-dunk starting options the White Sox have looking toward 2014 are all left-handed in Santiago, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks.

Sale isn't going anywhere, Danks and the $47 million remaining on his contract after this year won't be easy to move and Quintana represents a more viable No. 2 starter option as Danks continues to round back into form after shoulder surgery last year.

Santiago wouldn't figure to bring back as much as Quintana could on the trade market, but an arm like Quintana's would be harder to replace.

Trading away Santiago isn't something the White Sox necessarily want to do, but in order to get more balance in the rotation, not to mention a piece to diversify the offense, it's expected to be considered.