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."