CHICAGO -- That wasn’t tobacco or sunflower seeds in Hector Santiago's right cheek Tuesday, it was the remnants of a good old-fashioned tooth infection.
Santiago lasted five innings against the Detroit Tigers, giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits despite that fact that he had shooting pain in his face. The White Sox eventually won 4-3 in 11 innings.
On Monday morning, Santiago went to the dentist to have a toothache and moderate swelling examined. The dentist recommended a preventative root canal in order to not make matters worse, but things backfired when the infection grew not long after the procedure.
When Santiago woke up around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning with a temperature that approached 103 degrees, he figured his start against the Tigers later in the day was in jeopardy.
Medication, rest and a number of turns in the cold tub reduced his fever and he took the mound as scheduled, albeit with a swollen face.
“Every time I threw a pitch, I was kind of grimacing a little bit; it was shooting pain,” Santiago said. “That wasn’t the problem. It was more of being weak in the legs. I was in bed for 20 straight hours yesterday. I came to the field at 2 (p.m.) and went home. I was in bed from 3 to 4 today. I didn’t get out of bed at all.”
Santiago said his mechanics weren’t an issue, he just couldn’t muster much strength.
“I tried to battle,” he said. “Just keep us in the game and tried to keep it as close as we can. Garcia had a big hit to put us up and just battled. A few plays didn’t go our way. But the outcome came out the way we wanted.”
At one point Tuesday, Santiago told John Danks he might have to assume his start, but in reality he had no intention of missing his outing against the Tigers.
“For me, my mindset was like I was going to go no matter what,” Santiago said. “The only way I wasn’t going to go is if I wasn’t able to walk. I said I was going to pitch no matter what if my body was aching or whatever it was. I didn’t want to miss it.”
At that, Santiago smiled, but only the left side of his face showed it.