5/26/2013 7:15 P.M. ET
Santiago is headed for White Sox bullpen
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Dylan Axelrod's start on Sunday against the Marlins will not be his last one for the immediate future.
Both Hector Santiago and White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper confirmed to MLB.com that Santiago will be moving to the bullpen and Axelrod will stay as the team's fifth starter after John Danks returned to the rotation on Friday. Despite posting a 2.96 ERA over five starts, including 31 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings, Santiago seems fine with the return to relief.
"I don't think anybody has lost their job," Santiago said. "Axelrod has earned his spot, and [Danks] is coming off the surgery. He's been here for years now, and everybody else is throwing the ball well.
"[Axelrod] was the only person I was competing with, but he's earned his job and done well enough to stay there. Like I said earlier in the year, I'm going to be in the rotation. It's going to happen. They've said it. It's just a matter of time when it's going to happen."
Santiago could pitch in long relief, but the White Sox have greater plans for him than just the middle innings. Matt Thornton is currently the only southpaw in the bullpen, so Santiago is ready for everyday work.
"Hector is an extremely valuable guy for us because he can do many roles," said Cooper of Santiago, who has made seven relief appearances this season. "Obviously, his time is not coming -- it's here. He has started for us. He's started well.
"We've got John Danks back, and that was the original plan. But Hector is too valuable and too good to keep him restricted in a role like [long relief]. He'll be ready every day, we are going to utilize him. We need him out there."
If something happens where a starter needs a break, such as Chris Sale being skipped last Wednesday due to a mild case of shoulder tendinitis, Santiago can slide right into the rotation. Cooper was impressed by Santiago's six innings of work in place of Sale against the Red Sox, pitching with one less day of rest, so the Sox know what they have. The best alignment as decided by the team, though, features Santiago in the bullpen and Axelrod as a starter.
"Listen, Axelrod has grabbed his opportunity and hasn't let go yet. We are not going to take it away from him," Cooper said. "The only people that have a right to try to take it away are the opposing teams, not us from pulling the rug out from under his feet. Nothing will please us more [than] if he goes out there and continues to do what he's doing."
"They said that I've earned my spot in the rotation, but right now we are better off with me in the bullpen," Santiago said. "I'm fine with it."
Stronger Quintana seeing results of offseason work
CHICAGO -- When Jose Quintana has needed to reach back for something extra on his fastball, that something extra has been there during the 2013 season.
Quintana still wouldn't be considered one of the game's true hard-throwers. But according to FanGraphs, Quintana's average fastball velocity has jumped from 90.4 mph in '12 to 91.3 through nine starts going into Monday's effort against the Cubs. He originally noticed the change in Spring Training, but simply in the form of feeling stronger.
"I didn't realize it right away," said Quintana, through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "But when I go and check the radar, which I don't like to do, I see the increasing velocity -- which is pretty good -- and I'm just trying to use that to my advantage."
A strenuous offseason conditioning program has helped a noticeably bigger Quintana find that extra strength.
"I concentrated in the offseason [on] working on my legs and my back and the upper body," Quintana said. "I feel like continuing that work here with [White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas] helped me be where I'm at right now."
Sale throws bullpen, seems set to go Tuesday
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale threw a bullpen session prior to Sunday's series finale with the Marlins, and the White Sox ace appears all but set to take his rotation turn on Tuesday against the Cubs. Sale had been skipped on Wednesday, due to a mild case of tendinitis in the back of his throwing shoulder.
With Sale sitting at the top of the White Sox rotation, featuring a 23-inning scoreless streak along with a five-year, $32.5 million commitment made by the team to him, there would seem to be extra caution taken with the southpaw by the organization. But pitching coach Don Cooper reiterated on Sunday a point made earlier in the week by manager Robin Ventura -- that any pitcher with that sort of soreness would have been treated the same way.
"I'll stand by our record at the Major League level with keeping people healthy," Cooper said. "But I have concern with all of our pitchers. That's our No. 1 goal ... to stay healthy. If you can stay healthy, then we can run you out there and let you do the things we envision you doing."
White Sox hurlers are tied with Detroit for the AL lead in quality starts at 29. Those same starters have a 14-8 record and 2.83 ERA with 23 quality starts over the last 33 games entering Sunday.
"There will be times a guy has a day that you don't expect," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Other than that -- as far as stuff, the way they compete, the way that as a unit they kind of pull for each other and help each other -- it's been great. It's been one of our strengths, and we knew that going in."
Ventura confident in Dunn despite tough stretch
CHICAGO -- Since Adam Dunn left a May 18 game in Anaheim with lower back soreness, the designated hitter is 2-for-25 with 13 strikeouts. He broke a hitless stretch of 17 at-bats with a first-inning homer in Sunday's 5-3 victory over the Marlins, his first hit since going deep in the first inning of the series opener with Boston on Monday.
Dunn continues to play through the back pain, although he said postgame on Sunday that he was feeling considerably better. White Sox manager Robin Ventura remains confident in Dunn, even with the back issue apparently altering his swing.
"He's doing something. You don't necessarily know what it is unless you're the guy at the plate," Ventura said. "But it is a little different, and eventually he's going to get healthy and get back to kind of that run we went on when we went back on the road trip."
Over his last 12 games, Dunn has six homers and 15 RBIs.
White Sox plan special Memorial Day activities
CHICAGO -- The White Sox celebration and honoring of Memorial Day actually started on Sunday with a pregame parade featuring military members and their friends and family. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Army paratrooper staff sergeant Al Mampre to Chris Sale.
Mampre was one of the original members of the Heroic 101st Airborne Company that later became the subject of the book and television series, "Band of Brothers," and received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during his service in World War II.
Eight servicemen were honored on the field, with the White Sox starters signing autographs for each individual at their respective positions. There was also a National Moment of Remembrance, a chance to honor those Americans who have sacrificed their lives serving the country.
Monday will feature a National Moment of Remembrance, followed by video for Memorial Day/Moment of Remembrance. Challenger, the Bald Eagle, will fly across the pitcher's mound during the national anthem, and there will be ceremonial first pitches by five members of the United States Armed Forces.
Third to first
• Infielder Drew Garcia has been traded to Colorado for a player to be named, as announced by the White Sox on Sunday. Garcia was a 21st-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and hit .253 with 39 homers over his six years in the organization. Garcia hit .222 over 24 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season.
• The last time the White Sox won consecutive games on game-ending hits was in 2010, when Andruw Jones (April 23) and Alex Rios (April 24) hit ninth-inning homers vs. the Mariners. Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie delivered walkoff singles in each of the last two nights against the Marlins.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jake Peavy joined Nick Blackburn (May 4, 2010 vs. Detroit) and Clayton Kershaw (June 26, 2011 vs. the Angels) as the only players since 1998 to earn a complete-game victory after allowing a game-tying homer in the top of the ninth inning. Peavy's five complete games since 2012 are tied for second-most in baseball behind Justin Verlander's six.
• Tyler Flowers missed his third straight game with back spasms on Sunday. Ventura expects him back during the Cubs series.