Santiago adept at changing hats

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's team yo-yo stretched himself out again Sunday to give the team a rare occurrence these days: consecutive victories.

Hector Santiago returned from a stint in the bullpen to throw 107 pitches over 6 1/3 solid innings and the White Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Sunday.

The White Sox won consecutive games for the first time since sweeping a three-game series from the Miami Marlins at the end of last month.

“Yeah, anything in a row is good,” Santiago said. “You get two and then maybe three or four. Who knows what happens from here? The way the starting pitching is going we’re keeping the guys in the game and giving us a chance to win.”

Santiago continues to be invaluable to the White Sox with his ability to start, head to the bullpen and start again. Young, elastic arms that deliver from the left side are like having multiple pitchers occupying a single roster spot. Call Santiago the 25th and the 26th man.

“He's valuable and we've known he's valuable,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think last year you saw his transformation, from closer to middle guy, (situational) lefty guy to starter. We realized Hector is valuable and that’s another reason why he wasn't sent down when (John Danks) came back.

“He’s a major-league pitcher and you’ve got to figure out a way to use him. With Jake (Peavy) going down, he’s the guy that slides right in and takes over for him.”

Santiago’s previous start before Sunday was May 22 against the Boston Red Sox. After that it was four relief appearances (one requiring 46 pitches) before starting against the A’s.

Santiago considers it no big deal to change identities on the fly. To him that’s just how baseball works.

“From the way it looks I guess it’s not that hard, but I think I just kind of adapted to it and have been doing it my whole life,” he said. “High school, college, everywhere, I kind of got used to the role.”

Heck, a little time in the bullpen actually did him some good.

“I feel great; I felt I could keep going,” Santiago said. “I looked up and saw 107 (pitches); I didn’t even think I was that far into the game. I knew I had a high pitch count because of the first two innings but I didn’t feel it. Against Boston I felt 107. I definitely felt that. Today I felt great. I feel fine right now.”

The White Sox are feeling better about things too. The offense has been horrible, three starters have spent time on the disabled list and an eight-game losing streak pounded away at team morale. Somehow, though, the White Sox’s rotating starting staff has maintained its dignity.

One more misstep with somebody in the rotation could prove too tough to overcome, but for the time being the White Sox continue to get production from the staff. Santiago might be a permanent fixture on a White Sox rotation one day, but for now the jack-of-all-trades role isn’t an issue.

“I’m always ready for the opportunity to (start),” he said. “I knew that coming into spring training it was pretty much impossible with all the starters and the guys we have. But when stuff like this happens, you take advantage of it and run with it. We’re all hoping for Peavy to come back as soon as possible, but for now, I’ll enjoy the role.”