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Santiago optioned to AA after impressing White Sox

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Left-hander Hector Santiago turned some heads during his first stay in the major leagues, which come to an expected close Tuesday night before the White Sox activated lefty John Danks from the disabled list.

Santiago, a 30th round pick in 2006, impressed his teammates, who wished him well after the Sox’ 4-2 loss at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday. He was optioned back to AA Birmingham.

Santiago made two relief appearances over his 3 week stay and didn’t allow a run. He pitched 4 1/3-innings against Minnesota on July 7. His recent development of a screwball to go with a live fastball makes him a prospect worth watching.

“Mark Buehrle was like, ’95 [mph], where did that come from?’ ” Santiago said.

Before the game Tuesday, Santiago hadn’t been told that he was going back.

“I’m prepared,” he said. “I kind of knew my role coming up here. Just wishing for the best and whatever happens, happens.”

Returning to AA is the best of both worlds for Santiago because he can get more work with the confidence of knowing he can succeed at the big-league level.

“I mean, yeah it was only five innings,” he said, “but you know you can get hitters out now.You’re not sure what you can do up here. It’s a different game up here.”

Santiago was just getting comfortable, enjoying major-league meal money, nice hotels and everything else about the big show.

“At first you come in not knowing anybody, going from the minor leagues to the big leagues,” he said. “At first there’s some shyness and nervousness, trying to get comfortable with everybody. You get past that.”

Santiago is 6-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 starts at Winston-Salem and Birmingham.