Sunday, August 14, 2011
White Sox clarify Sergio Santos' role
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Confused over where he stands as the White Sox's unofficial closer, Sergio Santos requested a meeting between pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen this weekend to clarify the situation.
The right-handed Santos has been a revelation this year, his first handling the closer responsibilities. Aside from a rough stretch in early May when his slider abandoned him for a few outings, he has been as reliable as they come, recording 25 saves in 28 chances.
But left-hander Chris Sale has been infringing on his turf of late, pitching the entire ninth inning for the save Saturday when the Kansas City Royals had some tough left-handed hitters scheduled to come to the plate.
"You would like a defined role and know when you're going to pitch and everything," Santos said. "I've spoken with Coop and Ozzie and this is the route they want to go so it's the route we're going, you know? That's it really. When they call me to pitch I'll pitch."
Santos has no issue with Sale and is more than complimentary when it comes to the young lefty's pitching this season.
"It's not ideal but we have that luxury of having that," Santos said about using whatever closer the situation calls for. "We have that luxury of having guys at the back end that can come in at any point of the game and get the job done."
Left-handed hitters are batting just .213 (20-for-94) against Sale with no home runs. But against Santos, left-handed hitters are batting an even lower .207 (17-for-82) with two home runs.
Guillen acknowledged the situation has been explained, to Santos in particular.
"I kind of let them know if it's a situation that goes by lefty hitters it's not because I worry or am afraid about what Santos can do," Guillen said. "It's just I feel more comfortable with that. We've been doing that for the last two weeks and it's worked out pretty good for us -- maybe even more than that."
After a slow start, Sale has come on strong. He has a 0.95 ERA with 37 strikeouts over his last 28 outings heading into play Sunday. His overall ERA has dropped from 6.48 to 2.63 over that time.
It's not as if Santos doesn't understand the situation. He just seems a little frustrated over how things have evolved, but vows to not let it affect his performance. He says he hasn't been doing the job long enough -- or doesn't have enough major league tenure, for that matter -- to be angry over it.
"Once you have one set guy it's usually just defined there," Santos said. "Now it's: 'Is it you? Is it me?' That kind of thing. Look, I mean our job at the end of the day is to be ready to pitch whenever Coop or Ozzie call down and that's what we have to do."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.