Returning to Chicago as visitor 'weird' for Santiago

Returning to Chicago as visitor 'weird' for Santiago

CHICAGO -- Hector Santiago became a 30th-round bargain for the White Sox from the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, working successfully as a closer and a starter for parts of three seasons with the South Siders.

But after being included in a three-team, offseason trade that brought Adam Eaton to Chicago and sent Santiago to the Angels, the left-hander had to get used to the visitor's environs upon his Monday arrival at U.S. Cellular Field.

"I was just talking about it -- it was weird walking in here," Santiago said. "Usually, you go to the visitor's clubhouse, you walk into the visitor's place you don't know where you're going. I walked in and I walked to the wrong clubhouse. It was like a routine, like I knew where I was going already."

Santiago arrived at noon, about seven hours prior to the scheduled first pitch, and talked to members of the White Sox front office and clubhouse personnel and the training staff on the home side. Although he has now returned to the Angels' rotation after focusing more on attacking the zone during a monthlong Minor League stint, Santiago still considers Chicago home.

"I was only here for a little over two years, but I was with the White Sox for close to eight years," Santiago said. "All the guys over there that I've played with, I came up through the system with all those guys, Thiggy, Joe McEwing, all those guys.

"There's a friendship there like family. I was excited, I know I missed them in California and I was kind of bitter about it, but this is a little better. I come back here and I can see everybody, so it's nice."

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.