DETROIT -- Hector Santiago began the year as the White Sox surprise closer, but over the last month, his role has been somewhat undefined. He has two three-inning stints, one one-inning effort and one game against the Royals in which he faced just one hitter.
Santiago likes the less-pressurized and spontaneous nature of not knowing exactly what he will be doing from game to game. But the 24-year-old southpaw ultimately would like to start, a target the White Sox seem inclined to help him reach.
"We've talked about it a couple of times," Santiago said. "They said I've been building my pitches up, and maybe I'll have a spot start later on in the year. We talked about that early, too, even when I was closing. [White Sox bullpen coach] Juan [Nieves] asks me all the time, 'What do you see yourself as later on' and It's always as a starter."
With five pitches, including his screwball, Santiago certainly has the repertoire to work as part of the rotation. All 23 of his Minor League appearances in 2011 were as a starter.
The point now is to refine those pitches, especially that unique screwball.
"The more you throw it, the better it gets," said Santiago. "I threw one the other night and it was all right. The second one got better and the third one was even better. It was a matter of getting into it and throwing it to a hitter.
"Obviously with [Jose] Quintana and [Dylan] Axelrod throwing the way they are throwing, hopefully I can have a chance somewhere in the rotation somewhere in the future. Two or three years down the line, whatever."
Floyd pleased with bullpen session
DETROIT -- The number of pitches thrown by Gavin Floyd during Friday's side session weren't nearly as important as how strong the right-hander felt when he was making them.
After throwing 40 or 50 during the bullpen session at Comerica Park, mixing in all four of his pitches, Floyd appears on track to come off the disabled list and start Monday night at home when the Twins visit U.S. Cellular Field.
"That's what might be the plan. I don't know," said Floyd. "I'll leave it up to them. I'm ready to go whenever they put me out there."
"Throwing and everything felt fine for him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "We just want to get into tomorrow, and if everything looks fine tomorrow, he would throw Monday."
Floyd was placed on the disabled list with right elbow tendinitis retroactive to July 8. The problem arose in Floyd's last start on July 7, but he felt it again, especially when he was throwing offspeed pitches, during a side session that was cut short last Friday in Kansas City.
An MRI showed no structural damage and Floyd's impressive throwing session Friday improved his mindset as Monday's start approaches. Floyd no longer is worried about doing greater damage to his elbow.
"Before, I was like, 'I don't know if I should throw the next one,' and I felt like I have to wrap this up," Floyd said. "This time, I could have kept going. I felt real strong and I felt pretty happy.
"Compared to the last time I was on the mound, it feels a ton better. I mean, if I have to deal with whatever the mild soreness I do feel, I can do that as needed. Tendinitis takes time to get out of there. I felt 99 percent. So, I felt real good to be able to let it go and not feel or be apprehensive."
Morel starts second rehab assignment
DETROIT -- Brent Morel began another Minor League rehab assignment Friday night with Class A Winston-Salem, finishing 0-for-2 with a strikeout as the Dash's designated hitter. But this time, Morel feels more confident that his lumbar back strain will make it through the daily test as he works his way toward Chicago.
"I went and saw Dr. [Robert] Watkins in Los Angeles, one of the better back doctors, and he gave me a back program I've been working on in Bakersfield [Calif.]," said Morel during a Friday evening conference. "The program is basically core strength, but it's not the typical core strength you would think.
"My hips were out of alignment and they felt that had a lot to do with the pain. So, I'm making sure they are back in line and focused on my core strength. It's feeling really good."
Morel began the year as the White Sox starting third baseman but hasn't played since May 17. His last rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte came to a close on June 7 when the back pain resurfaced.
After going through a Spring Training of sorts with rookie-level Bristol earlier this week, Morel feels only the normal soreness coming from those sorts of workouts. He has no timetable for getting back to the White Sox, knowing that when he arrives, he will be a backup to Kevin Youkilis.
"It's been fun to watch, and they are a real exciting team," Morel said. "Youk balances the lineup out a lot. We weren't getting a lot of production when I was in there and then when I wasn't. For them to go out and get him and see the impact it's had on the team, it's been fun to watch. The team believes in themselves a bit more.
"They're not really in a big rush to get me back. Until they went out and got him, I was really kind of pushing it to get back as soon as I could. Now I'm just making sure I get healthy. Taking a guess, they may need me to spell anybody or pinch-run for [Paul] Konerko late in the game, maybe go to third with Youkilis to first. I just want to get back up there and help out defense, pinch-run, spell a guy, any way I can."
Third to first
Right-handed reliever Jesse Crain remains on target to come off the disabled list and join the team either Saturday or Sunday in Detroit. Crain has not pitched since June 23 because of a right shoulder strain.
The White Sox have allowed just 14 unearned runs this season, the fewest in baseball.
Since May 17, the White Sox have the third best record in all of baseball at 33-22. Jake Peavy has thrown at least six innings in 18 of his 19 starts this season.