CHICAGO -- Handling the role of closer was an awesome experience for Hector Santiago during the first month of the 2012 season. But the rookie admits to making better usage of all his pitches after he was moved into long relief and eventually a starting spot, where he would like to stay.
"When I was a closer, I felt like I had one main pitch and then I had some other ones that I would throw to get them off that pitch to go back to it," Santiago. "My fastball was that main pitch, and I would throw other stuff to show and then went right back to the fastball.
"[Monday], I got to throw everything: changeups for strikes, screwballs for strikes, sliders for strikes, cutters for strikes. I threw everything in all different counts. It was a big change in situations, closing to starting."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura is leaning toward Santiago as his starter for Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Royals, after the southpaw beat the Twins by allowing one run over five-plus innings. Santiago also has learned about the difference in pressure between the two roles.
During his last moment as closer on April 25, Santiago gave up a two-run, game-tying homer to Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the 14th that erased the team's two-run rally in the top of the frame at Oakland. On Monday, Santiago gave up Jamey Carroll's solo homer in the fifth, but it wasn't exactly a game-changer.
"You go after guys in the ninth inning [as a closer]: 'Here you go, put it in play, let's get out of here,'" Santiago said. "You attack guys and you have that adrenaline going. You want to throw harder and get after guys and blow them away.
"That ninth inning is a show. As a starter, you can sink it, change speeds and throw one 90 [mph] and one 95, run it inside at 93, and do so many different things. Look at [Detroit's Justin] Verlander. He starts at 90 and goes up to 100 mph in the seventh inning, and you are able to work in all your other stuff."
No extra rest planned for Sale, Quintana
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale takes the mound Saturday afternoon against the Royals with an extra day of rest, built in through Thursday's off-day.
But according to White Sox manager Robin Ventura, the team's final off-day on Sept. 17 looks to be the only other slightly extended down time for the first-year starter, who is sitting at a single-season career-high 163 innings pitched.
"Probably an extra day more than anything. A day or two, not skipping two starts or anything like that," said Ventura when asked about rest for Sale. "I don't know if it's a chunk of time. It might be one, if it comes up. We're beyond that point of giving guys chunks of time."
Sale went from May 1-12 without making a start, pitching just once out of the bullpen during a time when it looked as if he had been moved to closer to combat elbow soreness. Upon returning to the rotation, Sale went from July 3-15 while only pitching in his first All-Star Game and then received a third break after a July 27 start until an Aug. 6 home victory over the Royals.
If Sale stays on schedule, he will make home starts against the Royals (Sept. 8), Tigers (Sept. 13), Indians (Sept. 24) and Rays (Sept. 29) and a road start against the Royals (Sept. 19). That breakdown figures to work in the White Sox favor, as Sale holds an 8-2 record with a 1.74 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field, compared to a 7-4 mark with a 4.01 ERA on the road.
The high-inning mark for Sale prior to this season came in 2010, when he hurled a combined 136 1/3 innings.
Ventura has no intention of giving extended rest to rookie Jose Quintana, who has allowed 12 earned runs over his last five innings. The rookie's combined innings total of 163 2/3 between the White Sox and Double-A Birmingham has far surpassed his previous high of 102 from 2011.
Dylan Axelrod, Hector Santiago and Philip Humber all could be inserted for a start to give either of these young pitchers a break. But much like Sale, Ventura believes Quintana looks fine and will stay on turn to face Detroit next week.
"It's just more locating," said Ventura of Quintana's struggles. "Pitchers go through things all the time. It's just unfortunate it happened right then.
"He still has everything. He has the movement. He has the velocity and all that stuff, and strength. But he just needs to locate."
Ventura not afraid to listen to second-guessers
CHICAGO -- Second-guessing from the media, fans and even sometimes within the organization is an inherent trait built into a Major League managerial job. It's a situation White Sox skipper Robin Ventura expected in his first year and certainly doesn't seem to mind.
"That happened as a player, so that's nothing. That's just a part of it. That's part of the job," Ventura said. "It's always going to be there. Where I'm at, I understand that.
"But when we make a decision in here to do something, that's the best we're thinking at the time. We're thinking of everything involved. That's just part of the game."
Ventura naturally feels more comfortable at this 136-game point of his tenure, but he's still talking through decisions with his coaches to make sure they are on the same page. The enjoyable part of this season for Ventura comes from watching where the players started back at Spring Training to currently leading the American League Central.
"You don't know how it's going to end up, you don't know what's going to happen," Ventura said. "Nobody knew what anybody was going to do, so you're happy for guys who are doing well, where we're at. It's a fun part of the year to see it from the beginning and all the way through."
Hudson adjusting to sporadic playing time
CHICAGO -- Since his Sept. 1 return from an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte to test his bruised toe, Orlando Hudson has knocked out a pinch-hit triple, started Sunday's game in Detroit and got three at-bats as a replacement during Minnesota's blowout Tuesday.
"I just have to be ready at any time," Hudson said. "[Robin] Ventura is the manager. So, whenever he calls on me, I have to be ready."
Hudson, 34, could spell Gordon Beckham at second base for a game against a tough right-hander. The veteran of 11 seasons also will factor in as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
"I didn't think this early in my career I would be at this road, so it's a little shocking," Hudson said. "But it's a part of the game. All I have to do is stay ready."
Third to first
Dewayne Wise became the first White Sox position player to pitch since Dave Martinez on Aug 5, 1995, at Cleveland. According to Elias, Wise is the first position player to pitch for and against the same team in a season since infielder Josh Wilson in 2009 (Arizona). The last time Wise pitched in a game before 2012 was during his sophomore year of high school.
The White Sox division lead has not been greater than three games during their current 41-day stint atop the American League Central.
Despite their single-game franchise-record 10 doubles in Tuesday's loss, the White Sox still rank 29th in the Majors in that category with 197. They sit second in homers at 175. The White Sox have a 23-6 record over their last 29 games at U.S. Cellular Field and have won nine of their last 10 home series. They are 27-26 against the AL Central, although just 2-9 in their last 11.
Right-hander Addison Reed has a 5.66 ERA in non-save situations this season and a 3.25 ERA in save situations.
Alex Rios is hitting .421 with six doubles, eight homers, 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored in 15 games against the Twins this season.