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Thursday, July 7, 2011
Young lefty is White Sox's only bright spot

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- Perhaps it’s a new generation of White Sox players that will be able to overcome the hex of the Minnesota Twins.

In just his second career outing, left-hander Hector Santiago retired 13 of the 15 Twins batters he faced to give the White Sox at least a shred of dignity in a 6-2 defeat that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.

Philip Humber was certainly powerless to stop the Twins' run of success against the White Sox. He gave up six runs on 11 hits over 3 2/3 innings. He was removed after taking a comebacker off his heel.

Enter Santiago, who had been rotting away in the White Sox’s bullpen since June 26 when he made his big-league debut Wednesday by retiring all three batters he faced. Humber’s unexpected early exit put him on the spot again Thursday, and he thrived with the help of his screwball.

Throwing strikes and getting ahead of batters, Santiago gave up just a single to Michael Cuddyer. He also intentionally walked Danny Valencia.

“This offseason, I worked a lot on trying to go after guys,” Santiago said. “Earlier in my career, I kind of just hit a corner or beat around, trying to paint somewhere. But yeah, definitely this year, I’ve been trying to go right after guys. Here you go, hit it.”

After another rough defeat, manager Ozzie Guillen was not only happy to talk about Santiago, he appreciated that the first question was about how well the young lefty fared.

“Yes, Santiago, I say that a couple of days ago, when he pitched yesterday, this kid have a chance to be a good one,” Guillen said. “He has some heart and is not afraid. The No. 1 thing he has so far is to throw strikes. When you throw strikes, you always are going to have a chance in the big leagues.”

Santiago’s time on the big-league roster probably won’t last beyond John Danks’ return from the disabled list later this month, so he has a limited time to make a good impression, and he’s been doing it thus far.

“I’m definitely trying to come in here and trying to do that,” said Santiago, who was converted from a reliever into a starter this year in the minor leagues. “Be as good as you can. Show them that you can do it. Just try to work your way into it.”