Santeliz Aims For Long Look With Sox
CHICAGO—Will too much winter ball keep Ozzie Guillen from seeing all that Clevelan Santeliz has to offer this spring?
That's a question worth asking given the heavy workload the 23-year-old righthander has turned in pitching for his hometown team, the Magallanes Navigators, in the Venezuelan League.
Following a strong season at Double-A Birmingham, where he was used first as a set-up man and then as a playoff closer, Santeliz made 22 pre-Christmas appearances out of the bullpen for Magallanes. He returned after a short break for the playoff round-robin.
Santeliz was sharp in November and December, striking out 27 in 25 innings. But he was hit hard in two of his first three appearances in January, raising questions about whether he had compromised his sharpness for March and beyond.
A power pitcher with a mid-90s fastball and a hard slider, Santeliz failed to make the most of his first trip to big league camp a year ago. He had pitched a full season in winter ball and spent too much time in the training room, making only one appearance in front of pitching coach Don Cooper in a Cactus League game before being reassigned to the minor league camp.
"My hope for Santeliz is that he can arrive in spring training ready to compete," minor league pitching coordinator Kirk Champion said earlier this winter. "I'm not sure if Ozzie and Coop really got to see what he has to offer last spring."
At farm director Buddy Bell's recommendation, Santeliz got a look as a starting pitcher in the second half of the 2008 season. He never got comfortable using his changeup as a third pitch, however, and persuaded the Sox that his future lies as a late-inning reliever. He put up a 0.96 ERA in 40 appearances for Birmingham.
Santeliz is expected to open 2010 with Triple-A Charlotte, either in a set-up role or as the closer, but he and fellow prospect Jhonny Nunez could be called on if needs arise.
• Outfielder Miguel Negron, re-signed to a minor league contract earlier this winter, was hit with a 50-game suspension after a positive test for a "drug of abuse."
• C.J. Retherford, an all-star second baseman for Birmingham's 92-win team a year ago, will experiment with catching in 2010. He got his first looks there during instructional league and at a January mini-camp for pitchers in Arizona and is expected to work in that role in spring training, after receiving an invitation to major league camp.