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Cooper frustrated by Santiago's wildness

Cooper frustrated by Santiago's wildness

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Cooper frustrated by Santiago's wildness

BOSTON -- Don Cooper does not like walks.

The White Sox pitching coach made that point abundantly clear during a colorful pregame interview Saturday at Fenway Park. Extend that particular concept out a bit, and he certainly was not satisfied with Hector Santiago's five walks over 3 2/3 innings in Friday's loss to Boston. That frustration manifested itself in Cooper slamming the dugout phone to the bullpen during one of Santiago's wilder moments.

"That's not a good game. That's a messy game," Cooper said. "That wouldn't work in [Class] A ball. It's not going to work against any good team in the big leagues.

"Unacceptable. Not good. I expect to get better, not do that. You know, heck man, we gave the other team too many opportunities. Good pitchers only give you one shot at them. Every inning last night was a problem.

"It's making me think that maybe he's hitting a little bit of a wall physically and we are going to have to come up with something," Cooper said. "I expect guys to be able to get up on Christmas Eve and throw the [ball] over the plate, and make them swing the bat."

Cooper's criticism was not limited to his starting pitcher. Although he didn't mention the White Sox shortstop by name, Cooper didn't like Alexei Ramirez swinging at Ryan Dempster's first pitch and grounding into a double play after Dempster walked Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham to start the game.

"Some of the stuff that is showing up in games, it's just we got to eliminate it," Cooper said. "We cannot give teams runs. We aren't that good. We gave them runs because our pitcher was unable to throw consistent strikes."

Santiago surpassed his single-season high for professional innings with his work Friday night, and there has been talk that he could be shut down or skip a start as September progresses. In a less fired-up portion of Saturday's interview, Cooper rightfully praised Santiago for a great first season as primarily part of the starting rotation.

And the criticism he presented to the media also was told directly to Santiago, who ranks 39th in the American League with 4.13 pitches per batter. He has the tools to be a frontline starter, but as Cooper bluntly explained, he needs the control to go with it.

"Let me tell you something. Good arm tools, the roadsides are strewn in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the United States of guys that had good arms that couldn't throw it over," Cooper said. "He's a Major league pitcher. He's trying to be a starting Major League pitcher which is in charge of 120 [pitches].

"There have been many games where he has done well. Last night might have been [his] worst I can remember. That's painful to watch."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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