CINCINNATI -- Hector Santiago has always been an outgoing, friendly force in the clubhouse and his first All-Star experience has been no different.
The ex-White Sox pitcher has basically been living it up since he was named the replacement for Oakland A’s pitcher Sonny Gray on Monday, earning him his first-ever All-Star nod. Not only did Santiago root on AL teammates in Monday’s Home Run Derby, he’s collected nearly three dozen autographs and even snapped a photo with Ken Griffey Jr.
Santiago said he’s merely followed the advice of AL manager Ned Yost, who pushed his players to get to know their teammates.
“I’ve talked to most of the guys here,” Santiago said. “It was meeting a few guys but it was pretty comfortable. Because you’re considered an All-Star, its kind of like, ‘OK, now you’re on our level.’ It kind of breaks just enough ice.
“I’ve talked to every single person so far and it’s easy.”
The one-time White Sox closer has made starting look easy for the Los Angeles Angels this season. He’s 6-4 with a 2.33 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 18 games (17 starts). A 30th-round draft pick by the White Sox in 2006, Santiago has found a new home with the Angels after he was included in a three-team deal that brought Adam Eaton to the South Side.
Santiago, who possesses an incredible autograph collection, has used this opportunity to improve it, adding 15 new players, including Gray and Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel.
But he’s mostly enjoyed the camaraderie with his new teammates.
“Everybody enjoys it,” Santiago said. “Once you walk through the door, you become teammates.
“Everybody is approachable.”
“The biggest thing and the coolest thing is how we went out and sat on that field and we were one. We were pulling for each other. Guy hit a homer, we got up and screamed. Guy finished his round, we got up and shook his hand.”