Chicago White Sox reliever Gregory Santos recalled a conversation he had with manager Pedro Grifol.
“He said, ‘Do you think you have the guts to go out there and close games?’ ” Santos said through an interpreter Wednesday in Arlington, Texas. “I said, ‘Yeah, of course. That’s what I want to do.’ He said, ‘Well, don’t worry. Your chance is going to come. Keep working, keep doing your job.’”
Santos was called on for the ninth inning in a game last week against the Cleveland Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Sox held a 3-0 lead on July 28. Santos surrendered a single to José Ramírez leading off the inning. With two outs, he hit Will Brennan. Santos rebounded and struck out Oscar Gonzalez for his second career save. His first was July 2 at Oakland. But he savored last week’s a little more.
“I can tell you that I liked better the one experience at home,” Santos said. “The atmosphere, the fans were there. It was more exciting than the one in Oakland.
“I don’t know how to explain that experience. It was really nice. I remember when I was a starter, I always said if they were going to change my role, I wanted to be a closer. Now I have this opportunity and every chance to close a game is going to mean a lot.”
The Sox are looking to give Santos more chances to do just that.
“He’s developed in the big leagues,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said last week. “When he first got here, he was kind of ‘let’s get him in the right situation, develop his sinker.’ And he’s kind of just flourished. He’s been the talk around baseball. People are very curious about him. We get a lot of good feedback from other teams. Hitters are going down to first base saying, ‘Who the hell is that?’
“He’s made a name for himself. We are really excited about his future.”
The Sox acquired Santos, 23, in a trade with the San Francisco Giants during the offseason. He has been one of the more effective relievers for the team with a 2-0 record and a 2.75 ERA in 47 appearances. He did not pitch Friday in the Sox’s 4-2 loss to the Guardians in front of 37,056 at Progressive Field.
It was the fifth consecutive loss for the Sox, who at 43-68 are a season-high 25 games under .500. Starter Mike Clevinger allowed four runs, three earned, with two strikeouts and one walk in five innings. The Guardians took the lead on a two-run homer by Andrés Giménez in the fifth. He had failed two bunt attempts in the at-bat before the home run to right.
“I didn’t get it in enough on Giménez, and it cost us,” Clevinger said.
Jimmy Lambert and Bryan Shaw combined for four strikeouts in three scoreless relief innings for the Sox. Santos has been called on for those roles throughout the season.
He has 52 strikeouts and 11 walks in 52 1/3 innings.
“Really excited to see him in these (closer) situations and see how he responds,” Katz said. “He’s had a great year up to this point and we want to continue to build that. While doing that, be mindful of his workload because he’s getting up there.
“It’s in the back of our mind but we also want these situations where there’s a save opportunity, put him in there and continue to develop him and watch him grow.”
Some say the final three outs of the game are the toughest for a pitcher. Santos doesn’t subscribe to that thought.
“I think it’s the same (as other innings),” he said. “We are playing the same game. I don’t think I have to put more pressure on myself just because they are last three outs of the game.
“In my case, even though I’m still young, I have experience in different situations. I’ve been able to get out of a jam with bases loaded and no outs. Why is it going to be different in the ninth?”
Grifol liked hearing that mindset.
“Let him keep thinking that,” Grifol said Wednesday. “That’s really cool. That’s probably what make good closers good closers because they do think that. Those of us who have been in the game a long time know that guys who pitch the ninth pitch like that and are really successful. We also know guys that don’t think like that they’re not as consistent as they should be.
“I’m happy he thinks that way. It’s always good to toe the rubber in that type of situation thinking it’s just another inning.”
Sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth, Santos is concentrating on continuing what he called “a very good year.”
“I’ve been able to stay healthy,” Santos said. “Everything has gone my way. It has been a very, very good year. I’m very happy for it.”
Sox acquire 2 minor-league pitchers from LA Dodgers
The Sox acquired minor-league right-handers Aldrín Batista and Máximo Martínez from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for international slot money, the team announced Friday.
Batista, 20, is 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 10 games (seven starts) this season with Arizona Complex League Dodgers. Martínez, 19, has a 4.73 ERA and 28 strikeouts in nine games (five starts) with the ACL Dodgers.
Source: Berkshire mont