Hector Santiago is an AL pitcher with a secret: He loves to hit
Hector Santiago is a pitcher. An American League pitcher. But he loves to hit.
"I hit all the time," he said.
Hitting has actually become a staple of Santiago's offseason workout regimen. He recently installed a net and a tee in the backyard of his Goodyear, Ariz., home so he could swing a bat whenever he wanted to. Some nights he'd hit a hundred balls off a tee, which is a lot even for someone who actually has to do that for a living.
Santiago sees it as a real benefit.
"You get your core workout," he said, "and you get to stay locked in."
Really, though, he just wants to hit.
"Oh yeah, I love it," Santiago said. "I can't wait to put up a cage in my house and put a machine in there. I'll be hitting all day, especially one of those automatic feeders that I don't have to worry about. Just be out there all night. Honestly, if I had a cage in my house right now, I would've hit in my house for three hours."
Santiago only has two hits in 13 career at-bats, but hey, small sample size.
Every time the rotation order is set, he counts the days to see which of his starts will take place in a National League park that will allow him to bat. And every time something happens to throw that off, he gets really disappointed.
Though, that didn't prevent him from nearly forgetting to take his turn at the plate in a 2013 game against the Mets.
It was May 7, 2013 in Citi Field. There were two outs in the top of the sixth, and Santiago was nowhere to be found. He came back into the dugout late, grabbed a bat, threw on a helmet, jogged to the batter's box without batting gloves and wound up striking out against Matt Harvey.
He swears he's ready now.
"I tell them all the time, 'Hey, if you need me, I've been swinging all offseason,'" Santiago said. "'I'm ready to go, guys.'"