Hector Santiago has no idea how long his banishment to the bullpen will last, but if and when the left-hander returns to the Angels rotation, it will be with a different mind-set.
“I’m not going to put so much pressure on myself to throw the perfect pitch,” said Santiago, who was demoted to the bullpen after going 0-6 with a 5.19 earned run average in his first seven starts. “It will be more of, ‘Here it is, I want you to hit this pitch,’ instead of trying to throw the pitch even better.
“If a 30-home run hitter is up, how many homers is he going to hit in 600 at-bats over the course of a season? The odds are still in my favor that he’s not going to hit a homer. I was kind of avoiding that, trying to make a great pitch when all I had to do was make my pitch.”
Santiago stormed off the mound after he was removed in the third inning of his last start against the New York Yankees on May 7. When asked if Santiago was letting his emotions get the best of him on the mound, Manager Mike Scioscia said, “There is definitely some validity to that.”
But Santiago has no plans to curtail his intensity.
“I’m not going to go out there and try to be someone I’m not,” Santiago said. “I’ve always had that fire, that go-go-go, attack mode.”
Santiago was replaced in the rotation by Matt Shoemaker, whose five-inning, two-run, three-hit effort in Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies earned the right-hander at least one more start, against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Santiago has made only one relief appearance, retiring the two batters he faced in Toronto on Sunday. He knows he needs to have several strong relief outings before he returns to the rotation, but “as a late-inning left-hander, how many innings am I going to throw?” he said. “I could go a week or so without pitching.”
Santiago was victimized by poor run support and shaky defense, but he also walked 18 batters in 34¿ innings of his seven starts and committed two errors of his own. Outfielders Mike Trout and Collin Cowgill collided on a routine fly to right-center field in that Yankees game, leading to a four-run first inning.
“You can pick and choose so many things from each game, and had they gone differently, I’d still be in the rotation,” Santiago said. “But everything happens for a reason, and hopefully this is a good, positive thing. I don’t want to wish anything bad on any of our starters, but I’m motivated to win that spot back. I did so much to earn it, and it was taken from me too quick.”