Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Sergio Santos strives to keep his hometown uniform

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

GLENDALE, Ariz. — My kids will never grow up to be Major Leaguers like Sergio Santos, but it turns out their formative years going to Dodger games were very much the same.

“I would go, but only under the condition that my parents had to get me a Dodger Dog and some nachos — otherwise I wouldn’t want to go to the game,” Santos said Sunday.

I know the feeling.

022815JO0284Now, however, Dodger Stadium is much more than a diversion for Santos, who grew up in South El Monte and Hacienda Heights. Though he’s a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, he’s a candidate to grab one of the spots in the Dodgers’ revamped bullpen for 2015.

Santos, 31, was a 2002 first-round draft choice by Arizona — as a shortstop. By now, the drill doesn’t seem so alien. Minor-leaguer has great arm but his offense hits the wall; minor-leaguer is converted to pitcher.

For Santos, it was a success. During the 2010-13 seasons, Santos had a 3.21 ERA for the White Sox and Blue Jays with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings. But he battled injuries in 2012 and 2013, before his stats went south last year, when his ERA ballooned to 8.57 in 21 innings (albeit with 29 strikeouts).

In 2013, Santos walked 1.4 batters per nine innings and allowed a .175 batting average on balls in play. In 2014, those stats soared to 7.7 and .426. He said he’s been bombarded with questions about what happened, especially from friends and family.

“It was definitely one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever had, to go along with injuries for the third straight year,” Santos said. “It just kind of felt like I wasn’t used the best I could have been, but that comes with the territory when you’re a bullpen pitcher. It was just a long year — it was frustrating, just trying to get into a groove, and I never really could. So I’m definitely happy to see 2015.”

Santos said he tried a new approach this past offseason, starting to throw earlier and at a slower pace.

“It was almost like my arm was always active during this whole offseason,” Santos said, “as opposed to starting at a normal time in the beginning of December, playing catch. I kind of started in mid-October … just doing everything I can to make sure I’m healthy. Forearm strengthening and shoulder strengthening were a big part of what I did.”

There’s no shortage of competition at Camelback Ranch for the 6-foot-3 righty, but more than even the usual incentive. Santos hasn’t played for a team based west of Chicago since a 2007 stint in the Arizona Fall League. Making the Dodgers would be extra special.

“Growing up a Dodger fan, it was kind of fun to put the jersey on and the hat on and be a part of this organization for the first time,” he said. “It’s just neat, because it’s a team I grew up watching. … Definitely, there’s a lot more excitement for me personally. I feel healthy, I feel strong, just really excited about where I’m at and the team I’m with.”


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  1. jpavko

    I would go to games and always would have even if there was nothing served at the games but water

  2. oldbrooklynfan

    I was the same Jpavko, I can’t remember going to Ebbets Field just to eat.

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