SEATTLE -- Welcome to the real world, Sergio Santos, where the job responsibility comes long before the promotion is actually made official.
So while Santos looks like a closer, pitches in closing situations and is generally being treated like a guy who will be asked to finish off victories, he’s going to have to do so without the metaphorical nameplate at the door of his pretend office.
“We are going to give him a shot to close again,” Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “But in the meanwhile, I cannot name him or give him the title. He’s going to get the best shot and in the meanwhile, we wait and see. He deserve to be out there in the last inning, and he throw pretty well.”
In fact, Santos wasn’t used Sunday the way a closer would normally be handled. When on the road in extra innings, teams typically save closers in case they take the lead and need to shut down the victory in the bottom of the inning.
Santos came in the ninth inning of a tie game and got it into extra innings where the White Sox rallied for three runs in the 10th. He then closed out the victory with a second effective inning, saving his own victory which won’t actually earn him a save on the stat sheet. What Santos deserves and what he gets have been mutually exclusive.
What his two effective innings late in a tight game show is that he is by far worthy of closing more than anybody in the White Sox’s bullpen. So why not just call the guy what he obviously is?
“[If I did,] all of a sudden, I have to stick with him,” Guillen said. “All of a sudden you don’t see him in the ninth and it’s, ‘What happened here? You said he was going to be the closer.’ When you are there, close the game. I think it’s too early to say this is the guy we are going to use. We’re not save that many games. But every time he’s there, he does the job. I hope he just wait a little bit for what’s going on and then we do something or tell him.”
To Santos’ credit he knows how this works. He’s a young guy getting a great opportunity, and he isn’t about to rock the boat.
“That’s just a title,” Santos said. “To me it’s insignificant. If we’re winning, and I’m throwing and getting the last three outs, that’s all I need.”
It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like actually being called the closer one day. For now, though, if they want to pretend the job isn’t his, he’ll pretend he’s not doing that job.
“I’ll try to keep it the same as if I’m throwing the seventh or the eighth,” he said of his mental approach. “I don’t try to look too much into it saying ‘OK it’s the ninth, here we go.’ To me, I’m going to get ahead early and focus pitch by pitch. As soon as I get the ball back I’m focused on the next pitch. Nothing more than that really.”