CLEVELAND -- White Sox Minor League field coordinator Kirk Champion, who served as the organization's Minor League pitching coordinator for the past nine years, gives credit to current White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing and Double-A Birmingham pitching coach Bobby Thigpen for the development of a young player such as Hector Santiago.
Thigpen served as Santiago's manager with Rookie League Bristol in 2007, and was his pitching coach with Class A Winston-Salem from '09-11. McEwing managed Santiago for two years with the Dash, and was one of the people an ecstatic Santiago contacted when getting called up last year.
These knowledgeable baseball men never really talked to Champion about Santiago closing. But they knew he possessed at least one prime intangible to work the ninth.
"I'm not sure if they thought he'd be pitching late in the day like he is now, but they never thought he would be afraid," Champion said. "He has always been a get-after-it kind of guy, sometimes to the point where he was a little jumpy and overanxious on the mound."
"They were always pushing for us," said Santiago of McEwing and Thigpen. "Being there for so long, you try to fight through it and do everything they ask of you to get a little more respect. They fight for their own guys when you come through the system like that."
Santiago started commanding his fastball better, worked in the screwball and proved more than worthy of that fight on his behalf.
"You see all the things he did well and why guys who managed him liked him," Champion said. "He just is an enjoyable guy to be around."
Peavy won't give predictions, will give his all
CLEVELAND -- Jake Peavy is an accomplished veteran starter playing in his 11th big league season, although not nearly as accomplished as he would have liked to have been over parts of his past three seasons with the White Sox.
What the right-hander is not is a psychic, and he doesn't intend to add that particular profession to his resume.
So when asked whether White Sox fans will see the real Peavy starting the home opener on Friday at 1:10 p.m. CT against Detroit, a healthier version of the one-time National League Cy Young Award winner for the first time since coming over from San Diego, all he can do is be polite and answer the question honestly for seemingly the 20th time.
Peavy will enter Friday's outing against arguably one of Major League Baseball's best teams as healthy as he's going to be.
"I have thrown some good games and some not-so-good games there, so I don't know," said Peavy, who is scheduled to make his second 2012 start some 21 months after surgery to reattach his right lat muscle. "I'm not going to make any prediction about what they are going to see or not going to see, but I can promise you one thing: You will see everything I got to give on that particular day. I'll be prepared as I possibly can be homework wise, and physically in the weight room and training room."
One major step forward for Peavy was throwing around 40 pitches during a bullpen session on Monday, normal Day 2 work after a solid six-inning start on Saturday against the Rangers. For much of last year, Peavy said that he didn't feel comfortable enough to work on things during side sessions in between starts. In the season's second half, he wouldn't throw at all except on his starting days.
But now Peavy is excited to pitch, talking with pitching coach Don Cooper about ways to improve and studying film of his better days in San Diego while making adjustments. He's even anxiously preparing for Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and the rest of Detroit's power-packed crew.
Just don't ask Peavy to predict which version of himself will be on the mound Friday in Chicago.
"Nobody feels any worse about not being able to play to the level I used to play at because of injuries than I do," Peavy said. "I know there are a lot of frustrated people because of it. I can go look myself in the mirror, and like I said, hindsight is 20-20, and maybe some things could have been done to prevent those major injuries.
"At the end of the day, they happened and [you need to] move on. I'm going to try to live up to whatever expectations anybody has of me. I have pretty high ones of myself."
Flowers staying ready despite lack of starts
CLEVELAND -- Tuesday's postponement of the White Sox game at Progressive Field turned Tyler Flowers' second start into an extended work day. The backup backstop will go at least one week in between starts, but feels comfortable with the preparation he's doing to stay fresh offensively.
"Where I'm at, I have a pretty good chance if it does continue to be a week at a time, and I don't think it will be," Flowers said. "If it does happen to be, I feel like I'm in a good spot.
"[Hitting coach Jeff] Manto is really working with me on some stuff, keeping it as simple as we can to have a fighting chance in the box. I feel really good where I'm at."
Flowers appreciates manager Robin Ventura looking at his bench players more like secondary starters then seldom-used players in reserve.
"That's kind of what it looks like, which is good," Flowers said. "He's not that far removed from playing, so I think he understands to keep the 'bench guys' ready and in shape.
"It would be good to get us in there a little more often. If something happens or when we need to be in a big situation, we have a little extra confidence going from an at-bat two days ago instead of eight days ago."
Third to first
The White Sox took infield practice after batting practice on Monday, and manager Robin Ventura said that will not be a rarity for his team. Ventura would like to go through infield practice when the White Sox first get to a new city.
"I've always felt it was necessary, if it all works out," Ventura said. "Outfielders throwing to bases, you can't really do that in BP. You're asking a guy to throw a ball to home plate, and he hasn't done it at that field.
"Unless you actually go out and do it, you might do it once every three weeks or a month. I like them to get out there and do it, be on the field and be comfortable. You can make adjustments, but you can't make adjustments if you're doing it once every two or three weeks."
A.J. Pierzynski played in career game No. 1,498 on Wednesday.
Paul Konerko's first-inning double off Justin Masterson on Wednesday gave him 3,529 career total bases, moving him past Luke Appling for sole possession of second place in franchise history.