PEORIA, Ariz. -- White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper had joked with Hector Santiago about his return not being official until he stepped back on a mound in game competition.Consider it official. Santiago touched 93 mph with his fastball, threw his whole repertoire of other pitches and worked his way
PEORIA, Ariz. -- White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper had joked with Hector Santiago about his return not being official until he stepped back on a mound in game competition.
Consider it official. Santiago touched 93 mph with his fastball, threw his whole repertoire of other pitches and worked his way through two choppy shutout innings in Saturday afternoon's 5-3 win over the Mariners.
"Overall, [it was] pretty good," Santiago said. "Nice to see a bit of velocity back from the end of last year. Mixed in some pitches, some stuff we've been talking about, working on."
This has been a happy Spring Training for the 30-year-old lefty, who spent his first three big league seasons with the White Sox, and, as he put it, "never wanted to leave, but I know the business side of it."
Santiago was traded to the Angels in December 2013 in a three-team deal that brought center fielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox. Now, a little more than four years later, after stints with the Angels and Twins, he's back where he always wanted to be.
Santiago signed a Minor League contract earlier this month to provide depth either in the rotation or bullpen. With lefty Carlos Rodon's return pushed back to June, Santiago could be in the right place at the right time.
"You prepare to start, for sure," he said. "But I'll do whatever they ask me to do or whatever helps the team to go out there and get some wins."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Tilson overjoyed to be back on field
For White Sox center fielder Charlie Tilson, it was an important moment. Sure, almost no one remembers these first exhibition games. But for a player who hasn't played in a Major League game in almost two years, it was a nice step in the right direction.
Tilson started in center on Saturday after coming off the bench to play the final three innings against the Dodgers on Friday. He has a single in four at-bats this spring. But that's not the point.
"It's a great feeling being back out there with these guys," Tilson said. "Obviously, it was a long journey for me to get healthy. This organization and this clubhouse has been so supportive in allowing me to still feel like part of the organization. That''s important. It meant a lot to be able to go back out on the field and compete."
Tilson was thrilled on July 31, 2016, when the Cardinals traded him to the White Sox for veteran pitcher Zach Duke. First off, playing with the White Sox might mean a quicker path to the Major Leagues.
And, oh yes, this was his favorite team. Tilson grew up on the North Side of Chicago, but cheered for the White Sox. One of his best moments was attending Game 1 of the 2005 World Series.
"I was 12 years old," Tilson said. "It's one of those things where when you walk in this clubhouse and look at some of the pictures on the wall and remembering that as a kid. It's incredibly motivating and makes it really enjoyable coming to work every day."
Tilson made his Major League debut two days after that trade and got a hit in his first at-bat. But he tore a hamstring diving for a ball in the outfield in the fifth inning. He underwent surgery and spent the rest of the season rehabbing. Then, healthy again, he suffered a stress reaction in his right foot in Spring Training. When he was about to recover from that, he suffered a stress fracture in his right ankle.
Now he's back healthy again and part of a three-way center-field competition with Adam Engel and Leury Garcia.
"It was a nice moment being out there in center field [on Friday], kind of looking back on what a journey it's been," Tilson said. "Feeling as good as I do now, I couldn't be more excited about what's in front."
• Rookie outfielder Luis Basabe broke up a tie game with a run-scoring double in the top of the eighth inning Saturday as the White Sox beat the Mariners to even their Cactus League record at 1-1.
• Second basemen Tyler Saladino and Jake Elmore had two hits apiece for the White Sox.
• Rookie third baseman Jake Burger tripled in the top of the ninth.
• Veteran right-hander Chris Volstad pitched the final two innings for the save.
• Lefty Jordan Guerrero, the White Sox No. 21 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, will get the start at 1 p.m. CT Sunday against the Reds at Camelback Ranch. The game will be broadcast on Gameday Audio and on a White Sox video webcast.
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.