For Hector Santiago to take a step forward, he must take one big step back, which is why the Angels optioned the struggling left-hander to triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday to clear a roster spot for outfielder Kole Calhoun, who was activated off the disabled list.
Santiago was 0-6 with a 5.19 earned-run average in seven starts when he was demoted to the bullpen May 9 and replaced in the rotation by Matt Shoemaker, who won his first two starts.
Santiago pitched twice in relief in 11 days, including a sharp two-inning stint against Houston on Monday night, and it was clear to the Angels that he would be better off remaining stretched out as a starter in triple-A instead of withering in their bullpen with no role.
“It’s a little bump in the road,” Santiago said. “I’ll go down and work on the same things we’ve been working on and take some positives out of the last outing and run with it. … Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, and you want to help the team. But who says in two weeks I’m not going to be back up here and be back in the rotation and throwing again?”
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, and when asked afterword 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.”
Santiago was victimized by poor run support and shaky defense, but he also walked 18 batters in 34 2/3 innings of his seven starts and committed two errors of his own.
“We still have high expectations for Hector,” Scioscia said. “Right now, the only course of action is for him to go down and pitch. … Hector needs to find his delivery, repeat pitches, get that continuity he had in spring training, and make pitches on a more consistent basis. Once he does that and commands counts better, you’re going to see a guy who is a major league pitcher.”