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

Santiago, Ohman in '5-horse race' to be White Sox closer

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the White Sox have an idea about who they're leaning to as their closer, nobody is saying.

Pitching coach Don Cooper even went as far as saying that veteran left-hander Will Ohman is in the picture. A more realistic candidate just added to the mix is rookie lefty Hector Santiago, who pitched the ninth inning on Sunday. Santiago got the save, his first, in a 5-2 victory against the San Francisco Giants.

"Addison [Reed], Santiago, [Matt] Thornton, [Jesse] Crain, those are the guys we're talking about, right?'' Cooper said Sunday morning. "And hey, you know what? Will Ohman got a [two-inning] save yesterday, don't be surprised. You guys will find out. But right now they're all still going. Ohman just made it a five-horse race.''

Ohman (1.29 ERA) is having a good spring, helped by the addition of a usable changeup to go with his fastball and slider, but he does not have textbook closer stuff. Santiago has a mid-90s arm, and his screwball -- described as "baffling" around the Sox clubhouse -- makes him tough on right-handed hitters as well as lefties. He attacks hitters and, like Reed, seems to have closer-type makeup despite his inexperience.

"Listen, we're looking at everybody and what's our best thing,'' Cooper said. "But nothing has been discussed about the finality of it all. Heck, I dont know what we're going to do. We haven't spoken about it. Everybody is gathering information, watching games, watching guys pitch.''

"It was exciting, to go out there and get a save opportunity,'' said Santiago, a New Jersey native who grew up cheering for the Mets and lefty closer John Franco. "That would be nice if they're actually considering me, being a first-year guy. Having a chance to do that would be awesome.''

As a rookie, Santiago simply wants to land a spot on the staff. That is all but a sure thing.

"It would be nice to have the closer job but ... I would love to just pitch,'' Santiago said. "Any inning, doesn't matter. Whatever inning they want to do, it doesn't matter.''

Crain's chances of closing have been hurt by being sidelined but he took an important step with a solid bullpen session Sunday. He is scheduled to pitch on Tuesday for the first time since March 12.

Cooper said Crain threw "free and easy and there was no pain.''

"I thought he threw all his pitches well ... Everything is pointed in a good direction.''

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This page contains a single entry by Daryl Van Schouwen published on March 25, 2012 12:49 PM.

Pierzynski hits inside-park homer in Sox win was the previous entry in this blog.

White Sox' Nate Jones racking up strikeouts is the next entry in this blog.

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