Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

The 'Crew' can celebrate - Santos makes the Sox 25-man roster

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sro2.jpgGLENDALE, Ariz. - The old dance crew would have been proud.
Everyone else associated with shortstop-turned-reliever Sergio Santos sure was on Tuesday, as the 26-year-old finally captured his eight-year dream of making a big-league team, and did so on the path less traveled.
The right-hander, selected by Arizona in the first-round of the 2002 draft as an infielder, stopped relying on his glove and bat less than a year ago, and put his stock in his arm, switching to pitching.
It proved to be a good decision, as he was told before the Cactus League game against Oakland that he had made the 25-man roster and would join the Sox bullpen.
Santos was called into the office, and awaiting him were manager Ozzie Guillen, general manager Ken Williams and pitching coach Don Cooper. Admittedly, he didn't know what he was going to be told.
"In this sport, you never know what can happen,'' Santos said. "[Williams] told me I'll be on my way to Chicago. And it was like, 'Ok, we are finally doing it.' ''
Not bad for a guy that back in high school was a member of a break-dancing crew and went by the name "Mr. Wizard.''
As far as the rest of the Sox roster, the club announced that outfielder Alejandro De Aza, right-handed pitcher Daniel Hudson and infielder were headed to Class AAA Charlotte, while pitchers Greg Aquino, Charlie Leesman and Erick Threets, as well as catcher Donny Lucy were reassigned to minor-league camp.
"They just told me be ready,'' Hudson said of his morning meeting with The Turk. "If something happens tomorrow, I could be the guy. Just go work hard, come up whenever I can, help win a championship.''
As tough as the final cut-day usually is for manager Ozzie Guillen, he did say afterward that there weren't many decisions to be made in this latest camp.
"Yeah, I think this year was easier,'' Guillen explained. "The tough decision was between Nix and Lillibridge about what one we were going to pick.
"It's not easy when you're going to send somebody down and you don't have any space for them, not because they didn't do the job. But the people we sent down last, they did a great job for us in spring training. They came ready to work and impressed a lot of people. That's the reason they were the last guys to get sent down.''
Both Nix and Santos were also helped out by the fact they were both out of options. At the end of the day, that will give them the benefit of the doubt with all things being equal. Nix, however, also feels that going through the 2009 season as a reserve also factored in.
"Last year was the first time I've ever done a role like that before and I feel like I transitioned into it pretty smoothly,'' Nix said. "I never stepped onto the field after not playing for a bit and felt like it was foreign ground, so I felt like I did a good job staying ready.''
It's Santos that is the story of camp, however, especially when his entire journey is taken into consideration. No wonder he was on the phone with members of his family for a good 30 minutes, and very emotional.
"I talked to him and said, 'Santos, you don't have one year of pitching. You've only had a few months pitching. I think the reason we keep you is because we know you can help us win games. This is not the Instructional League, this is not a development situation. Our job is to try to win this division, try to win everything. Don't feel like we kept you because we didn't have any choice. I think you earned it,' '' Guillen said. "He pitched very, very well and that's the reason he's here.''
Now, it's Santos' goal to stay.
"The sky is definitely the limit,'' Santos said. "I will try to be the best I can. I set really high goals for myself.''
And as far as getting a hold of the old dance crew and letting them in on the good news? They may have to wait.
"I haven't been able to get a hold of any of them,'' he said laughing. "Maybe I'll come up with some routines. I'm sure they are doing back-flips.''

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The story of Sergio Santos making the White Sox 25-man roster to start the 2010 season is a remarkable one. However, as they say, "the proof is in the pudding." If Santos can get hitters out at this level, and if Ozzie can stay patient with his young pitcher when he doesn't, it could wind up as one of the Cinderella stories of the 2010 season. I will be discouraging if Santos becomes the south-side version of David Patton, kept on the 25-man for the organization to save face (while getting very few, often insignificant innings). I wish Santos and the White Sox the best of luck, with the noted exceptions of inter-league games against the Cubs.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on March 30, 2010 4:24 PM.

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