9/11/2013 9:15 P.M. ET
Santiago well-schooled on the events of 9/11
White Sox lefty witnessed Twin Towers falling from New Jersey school
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Following Tuesday night's 9-1 loss to the Tigers, left-hander Hector Santiago went online and began to see a common theme across Twitter and Instagram centered on never forgetting what happened 12 years ago on Sept. 11.
"Everybody was putting pictures up saying, 'We'll never forget,'" Santiago said. "Everyone I have on Instagram, they are kind of like people I went to school with or grew up with or family. We all went to the same school."
As Santiago told MLB.com on the 12th anniversary of the atrocities that took place in New York, he was a 13-year-old, eighth-grader at Luis Munoz Marin Middle School in Newark, N.J., sitting in Ms. Foster's class on Sept. 11, 2001 when life changed.
"Our school was right on the back street and you could see right across the way. We saw it all," Santiago said. "Definitely, we will never forget. We saw it when [The World Trade Center Towers] just started turning black and smoke came trembling down."
Santiago saw the Towers go up in smoke from his school, and they were coming down by the time he made it home.
"I know everybody has seen it on the news and stuff like that, but it's not like when you see it fall right there," Santiago said. "It's right in front of you and it's happening."
Santiago joined assistant hitting coach Harold Baines and members of the White Sox Volunteer Corps in partnering with the USO of Illinois to serve lunch to approximately 120 guests of the USO on Wednesday afternoon at the Donnelly Armory on the South Side of Chicago.
Santiago signed autographs and posed for photographs with individuals representing pretty much every military discipline.
A moment of silence was observed prior to Wednesday night's game with the Tigers in honor of the National Day of Service & Remembrance on Sept. 11.
First responders (fire and police personnel) and members of the U.S. Armed Forces took the field with the White Sox prior to the game, and the ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Chicago police sergeant Martin Loughney. Wednesday's Hero of the Game, Army specialist Allen J. Lynch, is a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Vietnam War.
All of these honors strike a deep chord for Santiago, who has personal stories of heroes stepping up during this tragic time.
"One of my best friend's uncles, who works in the fire department down in [New] Jersey, they were there every day to help," said Santiago of post-Sept. 11 work. "It was like all the fire and police from Jersey, they were going right across the bridge to help out on days off.
"One person I know said his whole station went on their days off. It had a big impact on everybody. And it was everybody. People were going back. Talking to kids. People came from everywhere. Go out and help out."
Viciedo believes health main key to success
CHICAGO -- The final numbers posted by White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo won't end up close to his preseason goals for the 2013 season. But instead of dwelling on what went wrong, Viciedo chooses to look at the positives.
Those positives include the free-swinger hitting .400 in his last six games and .386 in his last 16 entering Wednesday, including five doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. When Viciedo gets on a roll, he literally can carry the team offensively.
His problem is that a left oblique strain in April and a jammed left thumb in August prevented the left fielder from ever getting into a rhythm.
"Early on, I don't know if it was because of the injuries, but I couldn't get the consistency of work on the things I was working on," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "Maybe that had a little bit to do with it, but I really don't know. I'm just assuming that it happened."
"Any time you're injured, you change things and you adapt to what feels good," manager Robin Ventura said. "Sometimes that's not what the actual mechanics of it are going to allow you to do. He's had a lot of those this year where he's had a lot of nagging things. That's part of going through 162 games. It's difficult."
The White Sox tried a leg kick for Viciedo as a timing mechanism to keep him a bit more disciplined in his swing. That didn't feel right, so Viciedo went back to his old form.
When asked on Wednesday if he could still be a powerful force in the middle of the White Sox lineup, Viciedo answered with one word-absolutely. Whether that work with the bat will be done in left field, at first base or maybe even third base in '14 is a decision that figures to be made in the offseason.
"I feel left field is my position," Viciedo said. "But I'll play wherever the team needs me to play."
Gillaspie shaking off three-error performance
CHICAGO -- White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie was not in Wednesday's starting lineup against Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez. But Marcus Semien getting the call at third base certainly doesn't indicate a loss in confidence from manager Robin Ventura after Gillaspie's three errors in Tuesday's 9-1 defeat.
In fact, Ventura wanted to make sure that Gillaspie knows it was just one of those nights for the hard-working young man.
"It's not always easy to talk to a younger player and for him to know that pretty much the whole coaching staff has had nights like that," Ventura said. "It's not one of those where you look at it as that's really the player he is.
"I've had a night like that. I totally understand it. You don't sleep well because you care. He's a good player, had a bad night, and you don't always want to hear that that night. I think you come back today and kind of talk about and go over it and kind of get over it."
After coming over from the Giants in a Spring Training trade, Gillaspie worked extra hours with coach Joe McEwing to improve his infield defense. He has gotten better in the field overall as part of a breakout rookie campaign, according to Ventura, with possibly one current caveat.
"You can get to the point where you don't feel that comfortable as far as you feel in-between," Ventura said. "That's something he's had this year. Having played there, that's a part of playing third base, you're going to have a lot of times where you're in-between on hops and where you're playing.
"When it starts happening to you, you get the ball that goes off your shoulder, you get the ball that goes off the lip. That's just stuff you can't really prepare for. You just have to react and go on. But that's what makes that position difficult."
Gillaspie faced the media postgame on Tuesday with veteran poise. He talked about laughing in 10 years at the most errors made in a single game by a White Sox player since Andy Gonzalez on Aug. 30, 2007. And Ventura thought that was the best statement delivered from the often times overly self-critical young player.
"That's about how long it takes for you to be able to laugh about it," said a smiling Ventura. "It is what it is and I know he's a good player and he cares. I don't know what took over his body, but that's not the player that you see going in the future. That's the tough part of playing the game, is to be able to have nights like that and be able to put them behind and just keep going."
Sale key piece as White Sox build for 2014
CHICAGO -- As the White Sox embark on their 2014 reshaping process, they already are a step ahead than most teams because they have a talented young pitching staff. That process takes another major step forward by having Chris Sale at the top of the rotation.
"Everybody is looking for that guy. We happen to have him," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's young and you continue to build around that way."
Sale became the third pitcher in franchise history under the age of 25 to record 200-plus strikeouts with his eight punchouts on Monday. He owns a 5.05 strikeout-to-walk ration, with Ed Walsh owning the single-season club record at 4.80 in 1908. Sale also has emerged as a leader for the other young pitchers on the staff.
"We have quite a few young guys we're excited about," Ventura said. "If you're reshaping, you'd like to start with pitching. So we're in a position where we have some young guys who are under control."
Third to first
• Advanced Rookie Great Falls, managed by Pete Rose, Jr., was eliminated from the Pioneer League playoffs after losing Game 2 to Helena, 8-6, in the semis. Great Falls lost by a 16-5 margin in Game 1.
• The White Sox entered Wednesday's rubber game with the Tigers on an 11-7 run over their last 18 home games, compared to a 5-14 record in their previous 19.
• The White Sox have a losing record against every division in the AL and are 8-12 against National League teams.