Tag: Ramon Santiago

Ramon Santiago Injury: Updates on Blue Jays 2B’s Collarbone and Return

Injuries have plagued the Toronto Blue Jays for the past two seasons and are starting to happen again, with second baseman Ramon Santiago out for the time being with a fractured collarbone.     

Continue for updates. 

Santiago Fractures Collarbone

Sunday, March 15

According to the Blue Jays’ official Twitter, Santiago suffered a fractured collarbone during the team’s spring game against the Atlanta Braves.

The team added, “He will be evaluated by a team doctor tomorrow for timetable on recovery.”

Santiago signed a minor league deal with Toronto in January that included an invite to big league camp. Depending on how long he’s out, this could be a crippling blow if he hopes to make the Blue Jays’ 25-man roster when the season starts.

Second base isn’t a position of strength for the Blue Jays, who figure to enter 2015 with Maicer Izturis as the starter, so Santiago could be a valuable bench piece given his versatility on the infield.

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Odds of Cincinnati Reds’ Top 5 Non-Roster Invitees Making the 2014 Roster

The Cincinnati Reds are prepping their Goodyear, Ariz. practice facility for another season of spring training, and five non-roster invitees are looking to carve out their path to the team’s 25-man roster.

In analyzing the team’s depth chart and active roster, it becomes clear that there’s only one spot where a non-roster invitee has a clear-cut path to roster inclusion. The team lacks a backup shortstop, and with no player on the 40-man roster ready to assume that responsibility, it looks as though one of the team’s non-roster invitees will get the opportunity to win that role.

The position battle there will come down to the two infielders with the most big league experience: Ramon Santiago and Chris Nelson. After that, players will likely have to rely on injuries to others to make the active roster.

The positions most likely to see an injury this spring look to be the outfield and the starting rotation.

Heading into the 2014 season, there are some significant concerns surrounding Johnny Cueto and his long-term stability. On top of that, both Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos experienced soreness in their throwing arms by the end of the 2013 season.

Should one of these players go down, then Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang are the two non-roster invitees with the best chance to secure a spot in the starting rotation.

In the outfield, Ryan Ludwick’s health is a major question mark. Although he’s almost a year removed from a devastating shoulder injury that cost him nearly the entire 2013 season, another injury to his shoulder could pave the way for Roger Bernadina to make the 25-man roster.

So, of these five players—Santiago, Nelson, Francis, Wang and Bernadina—which one has the best odds to make the 25-man roster as a non-roster invitee? Let’s find out.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com unless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers Ramon Santiago the Most Senior Tiger, and the Most Quiet

It wasn’t exactly Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock, but on January 8, 2004, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski pulled off a trade that was as lopsided as it gets. DD must have approached the Seattle Mariners with a gun and a mask.

On that day, Dombrowski traded infielder Ramon Santiago for Carlos Guillen.

You heard me.

Ramon Santiago for Carlos Guillen, straight up.

To add insult to injury, Dombrowski ended up with Santiago, too, a couple years later, when “Santy” signed with the Tigers as a free agent in January 2006.

Guillen, meanwhile, was arguably the heart and soul of a Tigers team that made the World Series in 2006 and contended pretty much every year after—and is still contending some two years after Guillen last played.

And Santiago?

The diminutive infielder can’t hit his way out of a paper bag these days. He’s a switch-hitter, but maybe it’s more bait and switch. Unless there’s an injury, Santiago gets on the field about as often as a starting pitcher. He’s been the 24th or 25th man in Detroit for years.

It wasn’t always that way.

There was a time when the Tigers trotted Santiago out on most days, counting on him as a daily player, which is kind of like running your car everyday on one of those tiny spare tires.

The year was 2003. Santiago appeared in 141 games, splitting time between second base and shortstop. He hit a robust .225.

That year, Santiago fit right in. The Tigers lost 119 games in 2003. They were the 1962 Mets, redux.

It was that winter, following that nightmare season, when Dombrowski somehow convinced the Mariners to take Santiago off his hands for Guillen, even up. Guillen was a six-year veteran whose batting average improved for four straight years—.158 to .257 to .259 to .261 to .276. He was 28 years old, just entering his prime.

The Mariners bit. Guillen came to Detroit and batted .318, .320, .320 and .296 in his first four years as a Tiger. In 2007, Guillen had 102 RBI and was, at the time, one of the best shortstops in baseball.

And Santiago?

The term “utility player” can be deadly accurate or it can minimize the impact a player has on his team. It’s like “character actor” in Hollywood.

Santiago plays second, third and shortstop. He won’t hurt you at any of those positions, defensively. He won’t help you much with the bat, either. Since being reacquired by the Tigers in 2006, Santiago hasn’t had more than 320 at-bats in any given season. But he’s been like an old, comfortable shoe.

Santiago is also the most senior Tiger, gaining that status after Brandon Inge was cashiered last year.

Ramon Santiago made his big league debut on May 17, 2002 for a Tigers team that was so dysfunctional, it’s a wonder they never ended up on The Jerry Springer Show.

The manager was an overwhelmed Luis Pujols, who took over after Phil Garner and GM Randy Smith were fired by Dombrowski in the season’s first week.

Pujols was as respected as a substitute teacher. The Tigers were an out of control bunch, losing games and fighting amongst themselves. It was, without question, the low point of Dombrowski’s 12-year reign as team president.

So it turned out that the Tigers had no one better to man the middle of the infield in 2003 than Santiago, who was 24 and probably in over his head as an everyday player. But he gave it a shot, played his hardest, hit his .225 and kept his mouth shut, even when there was certainly a lot to talk about.

In Seattle, Santiago barely got off the bench. He played a grand total of 27 games in 2004-05. He went 8-for-47.

The Tigers, remembering Santiago for his professionalism in a dark era, came calling when they needed a backup infielder in 2006. Santiago signed as a free agent and has been a Tiger ever since, making this his 10th season as a Tiger out of his 12 in the big leagues.

Manager Jim Leyland has gone on record time and again, praising Santiago for his work ethic, his character and his quiet dignity.

Even in these days of widespread rancor on the Internet and on sports talk radio, where sentiment means jack squat, Santiago has mostly been able to escape the fans’ wrath. Having lightning rods around such as Inge, Jose Valverde, Phil Coke and Ryan Raburn in the past few years have helped Santiago stay under the radar.

This year has been trying, however, for Ramon Santiago.

His batting average has been low even by Santiago standards. He literally has been hitting his weight—which is around 160, being generous.

Injuries have thrust “Santy” back into the spotlight.

First, it was second baseman Omar Infante, who went down before the All-Star break with a deep shin contusion after being upended on a controversial slide by Toronto’s Colby Rasmus.

Santiago stepped in, sharing time with minor league call-up Hernan Perez at second base. As usual, Santy didn’t hit much, but his glove was appreciated.

Then third baseman Miguel Cabrera was lost for most of this past week with a sore hip flexor. Santiago started at third base on Friday night instead of usual replacement Don Kelly, presumably so Leyland could have an extra right-handed bat against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels.

Santiago responded with a double in the fifth inning that was part of a two-run rally that enabled the Tigers to beat back the Phillies, 2-1. The interim third baseman made some defensive gems of plays as well.

Leyland, paid the big bucks to be oh-so-wise, gave a very unscientific explanation for his decision to use Santiago at third base on Friday night.

“I thought, ‘Why not give Santy a shot? Kelly has played quite a few games in a row,’” the manager told the scribes and the microphone thrusters after the game, per the Detroit Free Press.

Sometimes, managing is nothing more than playing a hunch.

Santiago, who’s normally about as quotable as a clam with lockjaw, spoke briefly Friday night about his 2013 struggles.

“It’s been tough on me mentally,” Santiago said, per DetroitNews.com, after his rare moment in the glare of TV lights,  “but I’m always a positive guy.”

“It’s good to be talking about Santiago after a game,” Leyland said after the tight win over Philly.

Talking about Santiago has never been a priority in Detroit, despite his being a Tiger for all but two years since 2002.

He’s not even really known for being the guy who was once traded for Carlos Guillen. Tigers fans should at least give him that.

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Ramon Santiago: Detroit Tigers’ New Elder Statesman

He is the most senior of Tigers, with the cashiering of Brandon Inge a couple weeks ago. He played for Luis Pujols and Alan Trammell. He experienced 43-119 as a starter and the World Series as a bench warmer.

He has, at times, enjoyed the same kind of popularity that the Lions’ backup quarterback has over the years—i.e. it’s sometimes better to be on the bench than in the game. You look more appealing to the fans that way.

He hits from both sides of the plate, as so many players like him do. But he doesn’t necessarily hit from either side terribly well, also keeping with his brethren.

He scores about 30 runs a year and drives in roughly the same amount. He hits a home run every full moon. Though he did once lead the league in…sacrifice hits.

He’s slick with the glove and let’s face it, that’s why he’s stayed in the big leagues every year since 2002.

Ramon Santiago is 32 years old—33 in August—and he’s your new elder statesman on the Tigers, now that Inge has found work in Oakland.

Going from Inge to Santiago in terms of Tigers seniority is like when ABC went from Howard Cosell to Fran Tarkenton in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth.

Everyone talked about Inge. Everyone had an opinion.

Ask a Tigers fan about Santiago and you’ll have your question answered with another question.

“Santiago? What about him?”

If Ramon Santiago were a country, he’d be Switzerland. If he were a jacket, he’d be a 40 regular. If he were a bandleader, he’d be Tommy Newsom.

Santiago’s act has played in Detroit since 2002, with only a two-year hiatus in Seattle (2004-05) in which he had a grand total of 47 at-bats for the Mariners. Speaking of Seattle, the Tigers made a whale of a trade when they dealt Santiago to the Mariners; they got Carlos Guillen in return. Even Santiago would tell you that was a steal.

The Mariners released him after the 2005 season and the Tigers snatched him up—kind of like when you find that old pair of shoes in the closet that you could have sworn you had gotten rid of—the comfy ones that you’re glad to again have in your possession.

Santiago never showed flashes of brilliance with the bat as Inge did. In fact, Santiago doesn’t really show flashes of anything except attendance in the dugout. A typical Santiago year is to dress for almost all of the 162 games, play in about two-thirds of them and actually bat in half of those.

His role is that of defensive replacement, and with the Tigers infield in recent years, that can mean a whole lot of replacing.

Santiago will start maybe once a week and it won’t be memorable with the bat. But, he’ll catch just about everything and make a few nifty plays in the field and all he’ll get is a pat on the rump and be told to stand by until he’s needed again.

Such is the life of the big league benchwarmer.

When Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder or Austin Jackson arrive at the ballpark, they don’t even bother to look at the lineup card that’s taped on a wall near the Tigers locker room. Not only do they know they’re playing, they know where they’re batting.

It’s like the 1920s Yankees, who invented numbers on the backs of uniforms by virtue of where their players batted in the order, hence Babe Ruth being No. 3, Lou Gehrig No. 4.

Jackson bats leadoff, Cabrera third and Fielder fourth—every game.

When Santiago shuffles into the clubhouse, he could make a mint if he took wagers from fans, ushers and equipment kids on his way inside, as to whether he’s playing that night. But the odds would always be 1:3.

The most at-bats Santiago had in any given season was 2003’s atrocity, when he got into 141 games for the 43-119 Tigers, most of them starts at shortstop, and he registered 444 ABs. He still only scored 41 runs and drove in his 29 RBI, even with all the extra appearances. But he did lead the league with 18 sacrifice bunts.

For the next four years combined (2004-07), Santiago had a grand total of 194 at-bats. And it took him 102 games to get those.

Yet the next disgruntled word Santiago utters will be his first. He has shown as much emotion as he’s had playing time. I don’t know if he cusses, but I bet if he does, it’s the Spanish version of “Oh, darn.”

It has taken Santiago 10 years and over 1,800 at-bats to slug as many homers as Cabrera is likely to have by the end of August (25). But when “Santy,” as his teammates call him, knocks one out of the park, it’s a moment as rich with pleasant surprise as seeing a man win a fight with his wife.

If you’re a pitcher who’s surrendered a Ramon Santiago home run, it’s like being an adult duped out of a cookie by a toddler. Like the hare losing to the tortoise.

But it cannot be disputed that Santiago is the Tiger with the most seniority now. He’s the accidental elder statesman.

His teammates love him. They’ve gone on record. They rave about Santiago’s professionalism, his preparedness and his gentle, subtle mentoring of the younger Latin American players on the team.

At times in recent years, Santiago’s insertion into the lineup on a more regular basis has been suggested by a fan base frustrated with second base ever since the Tigers inexplicably let Placido Polanco walk away into free agency after the 2009 season.

As the team has tried the likes of Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore, Danny Worth, Ryan Raburn and even Inge at second base, Santiago has been the backup and the fans have called for him—albeit in a “process of elimination” kind of way.

But the truth is that Ramon Santiago simply isn’t an everyday player. It wasn’t true when he was younger, and it certainly isn’t true as he approaches 33 years old. And there’s no crime in that.

This is Santiago’s 11th season in the big leagues and his ninth with the Tigers. He is the most senior baseball player in Detroit.

But I know what I’ll get if I ask you about No. 39.

“Santiago? What about him?”

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