GLENDALE, Ariz. — Hector Santiago reuniting with the White Sox made so much sense, it’s a wonder no one saw it coming sooner.
Signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, Santiago, 30, gives the Sox an accomplished option as a left-handed long or middle reliever or possible starter thrown into the mix of a rotation that currently looks all right-handed with Carlos Rodon out for the early portion of the season.
Traded by the Sox to the Angels in a three-team deal that netted Adam Eaton after the 2013 season, Santiago posted a 3.55 ERA over 532 2/3 innings through 2015 and made the All-Star team as an Angel in 2015. He struggled since then, in part because of a back issue, but comes to camp feeling healthy.
Since Day 1 of the offseason, Santiago said the Sox were in contact. The rebuilding Sox were looking for affordable veteran help, and Santiago was looking to return to health and put career back on track.
“We knew this was where we wanted to be from Day 1,” Santiago said. “It’s a great place, it’s where I grew up. It’s where they gave me my first shot. So it’s nice to go back home.”
Santiago started, closed and pitched in long and middle relief with the Sox from 2011-13. With two major league appearances under his belt, first-year manager Robin Ventura named him the closer after spring training, a role that didn’t stick. Ventura called him his “Swiss Army Knife.”
His role in 2018, assuming he makes the club, is TBA.
“Let’s see what happens, what their plan is,” Santiago said. “I’m ready to take over any role they need me to.”
General manager Rick Hahn cited Santiago’s versatililty and positive clubhouse presence. And “there’s no team in baseball that’s going to turn their nose away from adding left-handed pitching depth, and we’re certainly no exception.”
Santiago said he feels good, and said he likely has thrown more during the offseason than most pitchers.
This article originally appeared in the Chicago Sun Times here.
Comments will be approved before showing up.