Santiago puts on a brave face

MINNEAPOLIS — Hector Santiago, who pitched five-plus innings against the Tigers Tuesday despite battling the effects of a high fever and infection after a root canal gone bad, was still looking puffy on the right side of his face Thursday, but he expects to take his normal Day 3 bullpen session Friday and stay on schedule.

Robin Ventura said he felt bad about sending Santiago to the mound in that condition after Santiago’s temperature had reached 103. Santiago was also vomiting the day before. The worst discomfort on the mound, Santiago said, was self-inflicted.

“As soon as I put my cap on, I felt it in my temple area,’’ Santiago said Thursday. “As a pitcher you do something with your face when you put extra ‘umph’ on the ball, so every time I clenched up and pulled a face it shot some pain up into my head.’’

Of more importance is how Santiago’s body is feeling in mid-August. With 117 2/3 innings pitched, he is 15 innings shy of his 2011 career high between the Sox and two minor-league levels.

“I feel fine,’’ he said. “For the most part my arm feels good, and I’m holding up alright. I haven’t skipped any bullpens, which shows I’m strong. I think I did enough work in the offseason to prepare myself.’’

Santiago (3-7) is scheduled to pitch Sunday. His 3.37 ERA is second only to Chris Sale (2.73) among Sox starters. He is also second with 119 strikeouts.

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