Santiago excited to join Twins after unexpected trade

August 3rd, 2016

CLEVELAND -- Left-hander , who was acquired as part of a four-player trade that sent to the Angels on Monday, officially joined the Twins on Wednesday ahead of his debut with his new team on Thursday against the Indians.

Santiago, 28, said he was relaxing on an off-day when he found out he was traded to Minnesota, admitting he was a bit surprised by the move. But Santiago also said he's ready to embrace it and excited to be back in the American League Central after pitching with the White Sox from 2011-13 before joining the Angels in '14.

"It was unexpected for sure," Santiago said. "We've got a lot of injuries over there, so I didn't think they'd be moving starting pitching. So it's a little shock, but I like to keep moving, and I like new things. I like the thrill of seeing something else happening in my career, so it's pretty exciting."

Santiago is 10-4 with a 4.25 ERA with 107 strikeouts and an AL-leading 57 walks in 120 2/3 innings. But he has been on a tear recently, going 6-0 with a 1.78 ERA in six starts in July, causing Twins pitching coach Neil Allen to joke he's going to let Santiago do his thing and not meddle too much early on.

"He's had a heck of a month and has been throwing the ball well, so the best thing Neil Allen can do is keep his mouth shut and leave him alone," Allen said with a laugh. "So that's exactly what I'll do. But I do need to know if anything needs to be addressed like mechanics."

Santiago's primary pitch remains his fastball, which he throws 60.6 percent of the time. But he also uses two variations of a changeup to his advantage, including a screwball he said he throws about eight to 10 times a game.

"I throw a lot of fastballs, mix in some changeups and some breaking balls here and there," Santiago said. "I try to attack as much as I can, but the walks are sometimes just part of my game. As long as they don't score, I'm OK with it."

Santiago spent most of Wednesday meeting with his new teammates and manager Paul Molitor. Molitor said he briefly met with Santiago before the game and said it was evident he was happy about joining the Twins.

"He's very likeable and personable, and he seemed excited about coming over here," Molitor said. "I know he went out and did a little bit of work to touch up to prepare for tomorrow. We had a chance to look up more about his career and his recent past. I know Neil watched a lot of film today."

As Molitor noted, Allen spent about an hour before the game watching film on Santiago and couldn't help but be pumped about the prospect of working with the lefty this year and next season. Santiago has a career 3.68 ERA and was an AL All-Star last year.

"Are you kidding me? I'm thrilled to death," Allen said. "I've got Ervin [Santana] and him now with some experience and some consistency. They've pitched in big games, All-Star Games, things like that. So it's a positive to have someone like that to work with. It's going to be great."