Ramon robs Seattle’s Jesus Montero of a base hit while playing Third Base
in a spring training game.

From Toronto Star Baseball Columnist Richard Griffin, March 7th, 2015:

Among the position players, however, second base has the most choices that make sense. Among the candidates are rookie Devon Travis, homegrown Ryan Goins, returning infielders Mune Kawasaki, Maicer Izturis and Steve Tolleson, plus veteran non-roster free-agent Ramon Santiago.

Santiago is non-roster, but the 35-year-old Dominican has the most experience of all the candidates as a major-league utility infielder. In his 13-year career for the Tigers, M’s and Reds, he has played 505 games at shortstop, 341 at second base and 75 at third base. He has impressed those that matter thus far.

“He’s a proven veteran,” Gibbons said of Santiago. “He’s one of those guys you throw out there, you don’t have to worry about him. He’s been around a long time, but he’s still moving around good. He’s strong. He’s got some sneaky pop in that bat. He’s not just a little Punch-and-Judy type. He’s a natural shortstop and looks like he can still do that. He might be very valuable to us.”

Keeping Santiago would mean a one-year commitment with little risk. Over the past six seasons, he has played between 75 and 112 games each year. His presence on the major-league roster as a middle infield utility player would allow Goins to play every day at Triple-A Buffalo, with the $4-million Izturis having the first chance to play every day. Santiago started against the O’s at second base, making a diving stop and throwing from his knees up the middle.

“Today, I feel pretty good at the plate,” Santiago said afterwards. “I hit a couple of balls hard, one base hit. I’m working hard in the cage, trying to work on my hitting. Everything’s coming the way I want. This team, if everybody stays healthy, is an opportunity for me to do my best and try to make this team. I have in my mind to make this team, because I want to be part of this team.”

As they do at the start of every spring training, GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager Gibbons have a face-to-face meeting with all the players in camp and give them a candid assessment of their roles and chances of breaking with the big club.

“(Alex) said I have a good opportunity, and just go out there and try and do my best to win a (spot),” Santiago said. “It’s a great opportunity for me and I want to take advantage. Part of my game is to make sure I take care of the defence. I always take a lot of pride in defence.”

Santiago Slotted for Utility Role Off Bench
March 26th, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Reds have yet to set their 25-man roster for Opening Day, but one of the mysteries about the final spots has been revealed. The contract of infielder Ramon Santiago was selected and he has made the team as a non-roster player.
"They gave me the news. I'm very happy," Santiago said Wednesday morning. "I'm looking forward now to help somehow. I will try to do my best to help the team win some ballgames."
Santiago, 34, entered Wednesday batting .225 (9-for-40) in 18 games this spring. But there were numerous reasons the club decided to take him north -- primarily that he provides backup coverage at shortstop.
"He's a guy that doesn't put up big offensive numbers but does a lot of the little things to help you win games," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Especially in the National League, if you're in a double-switch situation -- especially if it involves [Zack] Cozart -- you'd like to have a reliable sure-handed infielder that really could go any place. And he's a good situational offensive player. He's not going to drive in a lot of runs or hit home runs, but he moves runners. He bunts well. He's a scrappy guy with two strikes who puts the ball in play."
Santiago, who spent 10 of his 12 Major League seasons with the Tigers, batted .224/.288/.298 for Detroit in 80 games last season and is a .243 lifetime hitter. He plays shortstop, third base and second base, but the Reds used him in left field in a game this spring, too.
Price said that no other non-roster player has been informed he has made the team. Other non-roster position players still battling for spots are outfielder
Roger Bernadina and utility player Kristopher Negron. Infielder Neftali Soto, who is on the 40-man roster, remains in the mix.
"There are some decisions to be made still. I think it will be tightened up in the next day or so," Price said.
Price, who was a pitching coach for the Mariners when Santiago played there, also believed the club needed a veteran for that type of bench role. The organization felt Santiago was also more of a known quantity than someone who could be called up from Triple-A during the season.
"That's a special talent in itself, to be able to perform when you're not getting a chance to play on a regular basis," Price said.
"I knew coming in that I had to work hard and try my best," Santiago said. "I know this Spring Training hasn't been my best one. At the same time, I've been battling, trying to play different positions and working hard. I never stop working, no matter the situation."

Ramon Santiago will be Red’s backup shortstop

March 26th, 2014
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds cleared up one of the big roster questions: Utility man Ramon Santiago has been told he's made the club.
Santiago gives the Reds a true backup shortstop.
"When our season got over, we looked at our club and felt like we needed to have that type of player," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Ramon has been in a tough spot as a big leaguer as a utility infielder and as a guy who doesn't put up big offense numbers but does a lot of the little things that help you wins games, especially if you're in the National League in double-switch situations, especially if it involves (Zack) Cozart. You'd like to have a reliable sure-handed infielder who's good any place -- second, third, short.
"And he's a good situational offensive player. He's not going to hit a lot home runs and drive in runs. But he moves runners. He bunts well. He's a scrappy guy with two strikes. He puts the ball in play. And that's very important. And he's guy who can not play a while and still get a nice performance from him.
"He's a steady performer. I've known him a long time. When I knew he was available, I was really excited we were able to go out and get him."
Santiago hit .224 in 205 at-bats with Detroit last year. He hit .206 the year before.
Price said the non-roster is not completely set.
"It's not," he said. "We still have a couple of decisions to make on (Devin) Mesoraco. And we know (Jack) Hannahan is not going to be ready. There are some decisions to made still. It will be tightened up in the next day or so."
Someone will have to come off the 40-man to make room for Santiago. Price did not say who it will be.

Ramon Happy to Make Reds Team

March 26th, 2014
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Ramon Santiago was happy on Wednesday, because the 34-year-old utility man had been told the day before that he'd made the Reds' roster.
The Reds signed Santiago to a minor-league deal in late January, with a guarantee of $1.1 million if he made the big-league club. Despite hitting just .225 in spring training games, Santiago made the club as its backup shortstop and utility infielder.
"I'm very happy, I wanted to be on this team because it's a very special group and then they gave me the news and I'm looking forward now to do the best I can to help the team win ballgames," Santiago said on Wednesday morning.
Santiago has largely been a backup player throughout his career -- playing in more than 100 games in just three of his 12 seasons, and starting 100 or more just once, in 2003.
Last season Santiago start 56 of the 80 games he appeared in for the Tigers -- 30 at second base, 19 at shortstop and seven at third base.
With the Reds, he'll primarily be used as a backup for Zack Cozart, filling the role that has been served by Cesar Izturis, Wilson Vladez and Edgar Renteria had in the past.
The promise of more playing time -- he appeared in 56 games for the Tigers last season -- was part of Santiago's desire to move to the National League. However, the player in his role last season, Izturis, played less than Santiago did in Detroit, but much of that has to do with injuries. The National League game with more double-switches and pinch-hitting, offers more playing time for most utility players, all things being equal.
Santiago was also attracted by the opportunity to play for Bryan Price, who was the pitching coach in Seattle when the Tigers traded him there in 2004.
"I have a lot of respect for him and the way he goes about his business, and he's a true professional," Santiago said. "I knew I had to work hard and do my best, I know this spring training isn't my best, but at the same time I'll be better and play different positions. I'm working hard, I never stop working, no matter the situation. I'm going to keep working getting ready for the season to start."
In addition to his infield duties, Santiago also played one game in left field this spring.

Santiago brings versatility with bat, glove to Red
March 8th, 2014

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- During the offseason, free-agent utility infielder Ramon Santiago was asking his agent to find him a National League team to join. About two weeks before camp opened, the Reds became that team, signing Santiago to a Minor League contract and inviting him to Spring Training.
"I think my game is more of a National League style -- defense, bunting and pinch-hitting, double-switches," Santiago said. "It's a lot of opportunities to get into a game. In the American League, sometimes you can sit out for a week and not play."
For his 12 big league seasons, Santiago has been entirely in the AL -- 10 years with the Tigers and two with the Mariners. Reds manager Bryan Price was Seattle's pitching coach in 2004 when Santiago was traded from Detroit for Carlos Guillen, and likes the idea of having him around in Cincinnati.
"We always knew he could defend. But he's an excellent situational player," Price said. "Offensively, he can put the ball in play. He's a hit-and-run guy. He's an outstanding bunter. He can bunt for a hit. He's smart on the bases. And he's an outstanding defender at second, third and short. That's where we feel organizationally that we needed some experience and support."
"That's the thing I work really hard on -- situational hitting. I can help the team different ways," Santiago said.
The Reds could wind up starting the season without backup corner infielder Jack Hannahan, who is still rehabbing from offseason right shoulder surgery and has yet to get into a game. That could improve Santiago's chances of making the team. He also would be a true shortstop backup for Zack Cozart.
If Santiago does make the Reds' 25-man roster out of camp, he could earn $1.1 million this season. His spot would fill a role occupied last season by Edgar Renteria, Wilson Valdez and Cesar Izturis. All three struggled offensively.
Santiago, who returned to Detroit in 2006, batted .224/.288/.298 in 80 games there last season and is .243/.311/.330 lifetime. The 34-year-old played 33 games at second base, 27 games at shortstop and 27 at third base in 2013.
"Last year when Miguel [Cabrera] went down, I was playing a lot of third base," Santiago said. "When Jhonny [Peralta] was suspended, I played shortstop. When Omar [Infante] got hurt, I was playing second, too. I filled in for those guys. I have to be prepared for any situation and any moment. I never know when I might get into the game at those positions. That's why I work hard every day at each one."

Competing for a Roster Spot, Santiago's Positive Personality Shines

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ramon Santiago looks around the room each morning and he can almost see the Olde English 'D' of the Detroit Tigers instead of the block 'C' of the Cincinnati Reds.
And that, he says, is a good thing.
Santiago, 34, played 10 years for the Detroit Tigers, one of baseball's best and most consistent teams over the past few seasons. And while he didn't play much, it says tons about his citizenship and character and team-oriented personality that he was as much a part of Detroit as the Ford Motor Company.
"This team reminds me of the Tigers," he said. "It has been in the playoffs (two of the three of the last four years). It has a lot of talent. It has good starting pitching, good relief pitching, good hitting, good defense -- we have everything."
Santiago is a shortstop, but he can also play second base and third base. And even though he was a role player in Detroit he always was one of the most popular players because of his off-the-field givebacks to the community.

He was mostly involved with kids programs -- Dreams Come True, Play Baseball Detroit and Keeping Kids in the Game.
"I try to motivate kids because they are our future," he said. "I have two kids (Raymond, 4, Andres, 2) and I want them to see me helping people and one day be proud of me. When they grow up, I want them to say, 'Daddy gave everything in his power to get him where he was.'"
Santiago is in camp on a minor league contract but the Reds are taking a strong look because utility infielder Jack Hannahan is having shoulder issues after off-season surgery. Hannahan has not played in an exhibition game yet.
Manager Bryan Price is a Ramon Santiago fan and likes what he sees on the field and in the clubhouse.
"He can defend and is an excellent situational player," said Price. "Offensively, he puts the ball in play, a hit-and-run guy, is an outstanding bunter, smart on the bases and an outstanding defender at second, third and short.
"We felt we needed some support at those spots, a veteran guy like we've had in the past --
Wilson Valdez, Miguel Cabrera, Cesar Izturis. He fills that role. And he is a great kid. If need be, he could play as an every day shortstop."
Santiago did that at Detroit in 2011 when the Tigers won the American League Central, only it was at second base. He played 101 games and batted .260. He hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning against Kansas City for a 2-1 win and a walk-off triple to beat Tampa Bay. But when the Tigers acquired
Omar Infante in July of 2012 Santiago was relegated back to the bench.
His attitude and demeanor remained the same whether he played a lot or played a little.
"My main focus when I'm not playing is to encourage my teammates," he said. "I try to give out a lot of energy. Whenever I wasn't playing I felt like I was playing because I was part of the team. I try to motivate guys in different ways. That's me, my personality, how I am. I'm an unselfish guy, a team guy."
Santiago likes to keep it light and upbeat, "You have a better chance to win when you have fun and everybody is happy. I try to come to the park every day with a smile on my face.
"When you wake up every day and you are still alive then it should be a beautiful day. God is giving you another chance to be successful and to do something special for you or for some other people."
Santiago says that's the way it was in Detroit and it is the way he believes it will be in Cincinnati.

Santiago’s Place

March 3rd, 2014
Last year Cesar Izturis came into camp as a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal and ended up on the team’s roster all season. This year the role of backup shortstop could fall to Ramon Santiago.
There had been talk that the Reds wouldn’t have a full-time backup shortstop, instead having someone at Triple-A that could handle that spot. That’s still a possibility, but Santiago, a 12-year vet, seems more likely to be in a Reds uniform than a Louisville Bats uniform.
“It’s one of two things. You have them on your club in the big leagues and those guys don’t typically get a lot of playing time. You find ways to use them and keep them fresh and get them a handful of starts and use them as a late-game defensive guy, and we don’t need that so much with this club,” Price said. “Or you’ve got to have control of them in Triple-A, so you might have that utility guy that is more of an offensive player. If you have an injury to one of your key infielders you can bring the kid up from Triple-A to be an everyday player. I think if need be, we could have Ramon play shortstop as an everyday shortstop.”
Santiago hit .224 with a .298 on-base percentage for the Tigers last season and has just a .215 average the last two seasons. Still, Price had Santiago with Seattle and likes what the 34-year-old can bring.
“He’s an excellent situational player offensively, putting the ball in play, he’s a hit-and-run guy, he’s an excellent bunter, he can bunt for a hit, he’s smart on the bases,” Price said. “He’s an outstanding defender at second, third and short. That’s where we feel, organizationally, we really needed some support and some experience. You guys have seen it, we talked about it the other day, having Cabrera, Wilson Valdez, Izturis and those guys in the past, he fills that role.”

Ramon Santiago, Brayan Pena Lead Reds to 3-2 Win Over Rockies

March 1st, 2014
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- Ramon Santiago singled home a run, stole second and scored on a wild pitch to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Saturday.
Brayan Pena doubled and scored on Santiago's single. Neftali Soto doubled in a run for Cincinnati.
Pena and Santiago both played for Detroit last season.
Nolan Arenado had three singles and an RBI for the Rockies. Former Reds infielder Paul Janish singled and scored two runs.
"Arenado looks good. He has his legs under him," Colorado manager Walt Weiss said. "At times last year he got away from using his legs. I don't worry about Nolan."
The game was played despite the first rain in the Phoenix area since Dec. 21. Billy Hamilton, Skip Schumaker, Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart were scratched from the original Reds lineup due to wet conditions.
Colorado was informed the game was on shortly after 11 a.m., leaving the Rockies enough time to make the 45-minute trip from Scottsdale.
Chien-Ming Wang pitched for Cincinnati for the first time this spring. He allowed one run and five hits in two innings, striking out two.
The 34-year-old right-hander from Taiwan was signed in the offseason to add rotation depth. He is working on off-speed pitches to complement his sinking fastball.
"I am very happy to be in the major league camp," Wang said. "I mixed in more change-ups and change of speeds. The whole spring I've been working on the change-up and curveball."

Predicting 25-Man Rosters: Reds

Pitchers (12)
Starters: Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani, Mat Latos, Mike Leake
Relievers: Aroldis Chapman, J.J. Hover, Sean Marshall, Sam LeCure, Manny Parra, Logan Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon
The Cincinnati Reds will have a couple of experienced big league starters in camp in Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang. Neither pitcher is expected to make the rotation out of spring training, but either one could become a viable option should the Reds' rotation need reinforcements. 
Position Players (13)
Catchers: Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena
Infielders: Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Todd Frazier, Skip Schumaker, Ramon Santiago, Jack Hannahan
Outfielders: Billy Hamilton, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, Chris Heisey
The Reds also have a selection of non-roster position players who boast MLB experience. Catcher Corky Miller, infielder Chris Nelson and outfielder Roger Bernadina have the best odds of earning bench roles on the Opening Day roster. 

Reds Find Potential Backup Shortstop in Santiago

  • January 29th, 2014

CINCINNATI -- Seeking infield depth, namely a backup shortstop, the Reds signed free agent Ramon Santiago to a Minor League contract and invited him to big league camp for Spring Training.
If Santiago makes the club, he can earn $1.1 million in salary for 2014.
"We had identified three or four guys, but we liked him a lot," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I've liked him for a while. I tried to sign him a couple of years ago before he signed his last contract with Detroit. He's a solid defensive player at second base, shortstop and third base. He's a switch hitter that runs well. He'll put the ball in play. His numbers aren't great but he handles the bat well enough that he's not going to be a dead out. He's another good character guy and a good guy for the clubhouse."
Santiago, 34, is a 12-season veteran of the Tigers and Mariners. Last season for Detroit, the switch-hitting Santiago batted .224/.288/.298 in 80 games. Lifetime, Santiago is batting .243/.311/.330.
The Reds already have
Zack Cozart as their regular shortstop, but they wanted added depth. On Monday, another infielder was added on a Minor League deal in ex-Rockies player Chris Nelson. He was also invited to camp, but lacks experience at shortstop.
Already under big league contract for bench roles are utility player
Skip Schumaker and third baseman Jack Hannahan.
The Reds have had three backup shortstops over the last three seasons --
Edgar Renteria, Wilson Valdez and Cesar Izturis -- all without much success, especially offensively. The three combined for a .228 batting average with a .275 on-base percentage over 236 games.
Jocketty and manager
Bryan Price didn't feel they had to have a backup shortstop, but kept their eyes peeled. Both third baseman Todd Frazier and Hannahan could also play the position, if need be.
Santiago can opt out of the contract if he does not make the team at the end of camp. Would he accept a Triple-A assignment?
"Possibly. If there's not another Major League job out there, he might," Jocketty said. "I would think he's got a pretty good shot at making the club."
Jocketty does not expect to make any more free agent additions, but left his options open.
"You never know," Jocketty said. "We keep getting calls from different agents for guys that haven't signed yet. If they look attractive enough to us, we might consider it, but nothing is pending."

Santiago Pinches Crow for Another Home Run
By Jason Beck and Bobby Nightengale / MLB.com | 8/16/2013 6:50 P.M. ET

DETROIT -- Ramon Santiago will always be known for hitting his first Major League home run off Pedro Martinez in 2002, but he hit his only walk-off shot off Royals reliever Aaron Crow two years ago. He can now count Crow for his first career pinch-hit homer.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was aiming to give Crow a different look when he sent Santiago up to hit for Jose Iglesias leading off the eighth inning in Friday's 2-1 loss to the Royals in the opener of a day-night doubleheader. Crow had just entered for Kelvin Herrera.
Crow put Santiago in an 0-2 hole with two called strikes on the outside corner before leaving a slider up and in. Santiago turned on it and sent it out to right for the Tigers' second hit of the game and first run of the afternoon.
It marked Santiago's first home run since he took Cincinnati's Bronson Arroyo deep on June 9, 2012, at Great American Ball Park. His only other home run last year was a shot down the left-field line off the Yankees' CC Sabathia on June 1.
Santiago became the first player with two career home runs off of Crow, who in turn became the third Major League pitcher to give up two homers to Santiago. Scott Kazmir and Gavin Floyd are the others.

Tigers' Ramon Santiago wins Dancing With All-Stars event
From The Detroit News:

Members of the Tigers and their loved ones were among those who kicked up their heels for a good cause Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Dancing With the All-Stars was a “Dancing With The Stars”-type event to benefit Jack’s Place, a foundation that helps families affected by autism.
The event featured Tigers players, such as second baseman Ramon Santiago and outfielder Andy Dirks, paired with pro dancers. Santiago and his partner, Lada Reschikova, won the event.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was scheduled to take part but had to bow out with a strained hip muscle.
Other participants included Kelly Hall, girlfriend of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Erica May, fiancee of Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer, and Fox Sportsicon1 Detroit reporter Shannon Hogan.

Ramon Santiago stars as Tigers win over Phillies
From The Detroit News
July 26th, 2013

Detroit — Thanks, he needed that.
Who needed what?
Ramon Santiago needed that hit, those defensive plays, that good overall game — all of it.
With the help of Alex Avila’s two-run double in the fifth, and the double by Santiago that set up the run, Doug Fister pitched the Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies Friday night at Comerica Park.
Improving his record in three second-halves as a Tiger to 18-5, Fister allowed an unearned run, but nothing else, as he made it three strong wins in a row after allowing six runs in two consecutive games.
“He was terrific,” manager Jim Leyland said of Fister (9-5). “Good movement, good curve, kept them off balance.”
Former Tiger Delmon Young was one of the Phillies who came up empty. He went 0-for-3 against Fister before striking out in the ninth against Joaquin Benoit with the tying run on second.
Benoit ended the game on a grounder to second for his 10th save in 10 opportunities.
“But we can’t get greedy with him,” Leyland said. “We can’t use him in games we shouldn’t have to.”
Said Fister of Benoit: “We have the utmost confidence in him.”
Leyland has the utmost confidence in both.
Going into the All-Star break, Leyland said he expected Fister to come back strong because of what he’s done after the break the last two years.
He couldn’t be more correct so far.
Fister as a strong second-half pitcher is well-documented and has been written about. It’s also been talked about.
If it hasn’t been, it should have been after he beat Kansas City in his first start back from the break.
Fister looked poised in that game to have the strong second half. This one doubled the strength of that impression
Santiago doesn’t get much attention, though, even less than he used to — in part because he doesn’t play much, but also because he’s struggled. His.161 batting average has been an eyesore.
In fact, it’s not been a stretch to wonder how long the Tigers would put up with the struggle this season has been for the popular infielder.
But they haven’t pulled the plug on Santiago, and are no doubt happier today that they haven’t.
“I just thought ‘Let’s give Santi a shot,’ ” Leyland said about switching from Don Kelly at third. “Fortunately it worked out.”
Santiago made several fine plays at third base, which is where he started with Miguel Cabrera missing a fourth consecutive game. The Tigers are 3-1 while Cabrera has been out, but the wait for him to return could end Saturday because of how trainer Kevin Rand described Cabrera’s improvement before Friday night’s game.
Defensively wasn’t the only way Santiago contributed, however. Taking a .132 batting average since the start of last season as a right-handed hitter (10-for-76) into his fifth-inning at-bat against lefty Cole Hamels, Santiago doubled Hernan Perez to third with one out.
It wasn’t the Tigers’ first scoring chance, just the first one they didn’t waste. And to show again how much in need of a big hit Santiago was, the Tigers’ first threat ended when Santiago took a called third strike in the second while Jhonny Peralta was being thrown out at second on the pitch to end the inning.
“It’s been tough on me mentally,” Santiago said of the season, “but I’m always a positive guy.”
Even so, a walk to Perez, a double by Santiago against a left-hander and a double on a 0-2 pitch by Avila against a left-hander is probably the most unlikely way the Tigers have scored two runs all year.
“It’s good tonic to be talking about Avila and Santiago after a game,” said Leyland. “Timely hits can be more valuable than a lot of hits.”
Not only did these timely hits hand the Tigers the lead, the two runs held up as the difference.
“He threw me a hanger,” Avila said of the 0-2 pitch he hit.
What’s more, the outlook for tonight’s game improved at about the same time the Tigers were scoring when the Phillies, who have lost six straight, announced the formidable Cliff Lee, with his 10-4 record and 3.05 ERA, would be replaced in the rotation by lefty Raul Valdes because of Lee’s stiff neck.
Valdes is 1-0 with a 7.59 ERA — and has allowed five home runs in 21
13 innings.
If Cabrera is back, he’ll be the one starting at third against Valdes. But at least Santiago now has a game to call his best of the year.

Detroit 2, Philadelphia 1: Ramon Santiago, Alex Avila step up for Doug Fister Detroit Free Press July 26th, 2013
An ancient term received new and crucial meaning at Comerica Park on Friday night: the two-fer.
Normally in baseball, the two-fer refers to a double play — two for the price of one — or perhaps the old-fashioned doubleheader — two games for the price of one admission.
The two-fer for the Tigers on Friday night represented how Alex Avila and Ramon Santiago had done off left-handed pitching this season when they stepped up against Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels in the fifth inning:
Santiago: 2-for-19.
Avila: 2-for-42.
In that fifth inning, they lashed the back-to-back doubles off Hamels that produced the runs that allowed Doug Fister to go eight innings and win, 2-1, at sold-out Comerica Park.
“I grew up in baseball,” Avila said. “So I’ve seen it a lot where something happens that the stats say might not happen.
“Over the course of a year, plenty of guys will struggle like I’ve been struggling. But everyone knows, ‘He’s done it before, so he’s always a threat.’ I always feel that way regardless of whom I’m facing.”
An unexpected offensive plot perhaps made sense this night. Each team was minus three prominent batsmen. Against the lefty Hamels, the Tigers lacked three right-handed regulars: Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter (each day to day with ailments) and Omar Infante (disabled list).
Against the right-handed Fister, the Phillies lacked three left-handed hitters on the disabled list: sluggers Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown and fleet table-setter Ben Revere.
Manager Jim Leyland put the switch-hitting Santiago in the lineup only when Hunter was scratched from the original lineup. He replaced lefty-hitting Don Kelly at third so that the Tigers could have another right-handed hitter against Hamels.
“I thought, ‘Let’s give Santy a shot — Kelly has played quite a few games in a row,’ ” Leyland said.
Avila has made July his best month of the season. He began it as he came off a stay on the disabled list. He’s hitting .235 in July with 13 RBIs — his best totals in both categories for any month this season.
With the Tigers down, 1-0, and one out in the fifth, rookie second baseman Hernan Perez drew his first career walk. Santiago pulled a double to left to send him to third. Avila drove an 0-2 pitch up the gap in left-center to score them both.
“I think I’ve gotten quite a few big RBIs since I’ve been back,” said Avila, who began that collection with the five RBIs he had in his first two games of the month in Toronto.
Avila and his fellow catchers don’t get any statistical credit for all the runs they save when they prevent wild pitches with runners on third.
Avila wasn’t worried about needing to make such a play after the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins tried to create a Ty Cobb-like run to tie the score in the ninth.
Rollins greeted Joaquin Benoit with a leadoff single. He stole second with one out. Delmon Young struck out. Rollins stole third.
“Benoit has very good command for a guy who throws as hard as he does,” Avila said. “He can make the swing-and-miss pitch that is down and that is close to hitting the dirt but doesn’t hit the dirt.
“With a guy on third base, we’re not going to be limited in anything we do.”
With Rollins on third, Darin Ruf grounded to second for the final out.
Benoit had his 10th save in as many chances.
The Tigers had their third 2-1 win of the season. The two-fer had become the three-fer.
Contact John Lowe: jlowe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freeptigers.

In 10 years, Tigers' Ramon Santiago watches team go from hapless to contenders
February 14th, 2013
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ramon Santiago walked into the spring-training clubhouse 10 years ago as a typically young Tiger on a team with not much major league experience. That year's Tigers went 43-119 and set an American League record for losses.
A decade later, Santiago made his first appearance this year in the spring-training clubhouse Wednesday. He is now surrounded by a bevy of talented players on a team that seeks to reach its third straight postseason.
"I got here when this team wasn't good," Santiago said. "Now Dave Dombrowski has done unbelievable work."
When Brandon Inge left last April, Santiago became the last direct link on the roster to the depths of 2003. With Inge and Ryan Raburn gone, he's the only player left on the major league roster who was in the organization when Dombrowski became general manager in 2002.
Santiago left for two seasons. Dombrowski sent him to Seattle in January 2004 in the trade for Carlos Guillen, then re-signed him as a free agent two years later.
Given that Santiago went to Seattle and returned, this marks the first spring training where every player on the major league roster has been acquired since Dombrowski became GM.
"He's brought in players like Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordoñez, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez," Santiago said of Dombrowski. "They signed Verlander.
"He transformed this organization from down to the top, and it's an unbelievable feeling now to be part of this team for so long."
It helped that immediately after '03, owner Mike Ilitch decided to start spending to acquire veterans. He'd been reluctant to do so for a few years before that, perhaps because Comerica Park turned out to be more expensive to build than expected.
In '03, when the Tigers lost 119 games, they had a payroll of approximately $49 million. For this season, their payroll is expected to be above $140 million.
"One of the things I've enjoyed most about being here is my teammates and joking around with them," Santiago said. "It's one group. I don't see anyone here with a big ego. Some teams have big players and they have big egos. Here, everybody is one."
He pointed out how pitcher Anibal Sanchez came and said hello to him in the clubhouse Wednesday morning.
"He just signed a big deal," Santiago said, referring to Sanchez's new $80-million contract.
Santiago, 33, finds it hard to believe that 10 years have passed since spring training in '03 -- a decade in which his entire cast of teammates has changed.
"Being here this long is great," he said. "It's a privilege for me to be in the Detroit Tigers organization for this long."
Santiago started 134 games as a regular for those 2003 Tigers. Since his return in '06, he's been a part-time infielder. He had his worst year at the plate last season (.206, with no RBIs in 54 at-bats after the All-Star break). To regain his sharpness, he resumed playing winter ball this off-season.
"I thank God gave me the opportunity to be here," he said. "I have enjoyed every bit. Every spring I come here with the same hunger and the same attitude."
Contact John Lowe: 313-223-4053 or jlowe@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freeptigers.

Tigers' Ramon Santiago, Bruce Rondon are Hot in Winter Ball
December 21st, 2012
Bruce Rondon and Ramon Santiago are two Tigers who should come to spring training with some extra confidence based on their play in winter ball.
As of Wednesday night, Santiago was hitting .338 with 18 runs and nine RBIs in 18 games with Escogido in the Dominican league.
Rondon, who will be given a chance to be Detroit's next closer, is the closer for Magallanes in the Venezuelan league. He is 4-1 with eight saves and has 17 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Rondon has given up eight earned runs, five coming in one rough inning in late November.
"Obviously Rondon has had a very good winter, closing out games there for Magallanes," Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila said Thursday. "Ramon Santiago is having a good winter. Those are two big ones, two guys that are on the roster."
Santiago is coming off his worst season with the Tigers, after he chose to skip winter ball in 2011. He hit .206 in 93 games last season.
Santiago, 33, could still have a role on the team next season as a utility infielder because he's a switch-hitter who can be used as a defensive replacement at shortstop or second base.
Contact George Sipple: 313-223-4796 or gsipple@freepress.com.

Ramon Santiago: This Tigers team better than 2006 | detroitnews.com
Detroit — How far will the Tigers get in the postseason?
If the opinion of a Tiger who's seen it all since 2006 — and can compare it all — is any indication, they'll go far
"I have a good feeling about this team," said Ramon Santiago, one of two Tigers (Justin Verlander being the other) who has been with the Tigers every step of the postseason way the last seven years.
But whether it ends early or late, the Tigers' road to wherever they're headed begins tonight at Comerica Park against the Oakland Athletics.
First pitch is 6:07 p.m
"It's been a little different type year, obviously," manager Jim Leyland said. "Last year, it was decided pretty early. This year it hasn't been.
"So we've had a little time to prepare for all the stuff you have to prepare for. But, basically, we're here now."
Yes, basically they are.
And it looks like the Tigers have the better team on paper. But, as always, looks can be deceiving.
"You can't ever take guys for granted, no matter whose name is on the back," said Verlander, Game 1 starter for the Tigers.
To this extent, looks probably won't be deceiving: The Tigers can hit. What's more, they have better starting pitching than they did than when they went to the World Series in 2006.
Their pitching, in fact, is why Santiago has a good feeling.
"It's deep," he said. "Deeper than ever."
If hitting is going to decide the outcome against the A's, though, the Tigers believe they have the hitting to win it.
They feature three everyday players with batting averages of .300 or higher: Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, .330; Prince Fielder, .313; and Austin Jackson, .300.
In addition, Andy Dirks hit .322 in 314 at-bats and rookie Avisail Garcia hit .319 in 47 down-the-stretch at-bats.
The Athletics can't counter with anyone higher than .292.
As for the Tigers of 2006, that team had two players at .300 or above in Pudge Rodriguez and Carlos Guillen, and another two — Placido Polanco and Magglio Ordonez — at .295 or above.
Power? The A's have more hitters (3-2) with 20 home runs or more than the Tigers.
But if you take their top three home-run hitters — Josh Reddick with 32, Yoenis Cespedes with 23 and Brandon Moss with 21 — the total of 76 is only two more than the 74 for which Cabrera and Prince Fielder combined.
The Tigers' power is more concentrated in the 3-4 spots than Oakland's. But as dangerous as Cabrera and Fielder are, the A's hit significantly more home runs (195-163).
The Tigers had deeper power in 2006, with four hitters between 24 and 28 home runs. The four in descending order were Craig Monroe (28), Brandon Inge (27), Marcus Thames (26) and Magglio Ordonez (24)
That team hit 203 home runs.
But pitching is the core of the good feeling that they'll do well in this series — not to mention well in comparison to 2006.
"We had good pitchers in 2006," Santiago said. "We have more good pitchers now."
That's not a criticism of the 2006 rotation. It's merely praise for the Tigers' current staff.
Or as Athletics manager Bob Melvin said on Friday, "They have some starters that get your attention."
The Tigers downed the Yankees in a four-game Division Series in 2006 with these four pitchers starting, in this order: Nate Robertson, Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman.
They're headed into this series with these rotation plans: Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer.
The rotation that pitched for the Tigers in the 2006 Division Series had a 3.85 ERA.
The ERA of their projected rotation for this Division Series is 3.28.
It's the best starting staff, in fact, that the Tigers have taken into the three postseasons they've reached under Leyland.
"They're a very good team," Melvin said. "You look at their roster composition and they're probably built for the postseason.
"They have a lineup that's very deep."
And a rotation that's very deep — one about which they deserve to have a good feeling.

Tigers' Ramon Santiago tells others about his long road to U.S. citizenship
Detroit Free Press | July 4th, 2012

Ramon Santiago had done everything to become an American citizen -- except send in the paper work.
"My mom kept on me; she kept saying, 'Send it in, send it in,' " the Tigers infielder said Tuesday.
"She said 'What are you doing? Just send it.' I kept putting it off, so a couple of months ago, I finally sent it in."
Now the native of Las Matas de Farfan, San Juan, in the Dominican Republic, is a U.S. citizen and he doesn't have to re-apply for a work visa every year.
Santiago told his story Tuesday as 60 people were set to be sworn in as U.S. citizens before the game against Minnesota at Comerica Park.
Related: 60 become U.S. citizens at Comerica Park Tuesday
"The process took a couple of years," he said. "I qualified for it easy, but" it took me a "long time because I didn't send the papers in. Once I sent the papers, everything went through fine, now I have 10 years to residence, so I don't have to worry about a visa anymore. I can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years. That's the first step. It's a big step.
"Now I don't have worry about getting a visa in the Dominican every year."
The visa fee was always paid by the Tigers for an undisclosed amount.
"Every year, I had to go to the counsel in the Dominican," Santiago said. "Now I don't to worry about that anymore. It's a relief, even for the team because the team doesn't have to pay for that visa anymore. They pay big bucks. Every Latin player they pay for his work visa."
The Tigers signed Santiago, 32, in 1998 and by May 23, 2002, he had made the big-league club. He was traded along with Juan Gonzalez to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Guillen in 2004.
But after being released by Seattle, he signed a minor-league contract with the Tigers in 2006 and since has been with the organization.
The Tigers' homestand against the Twins and the Kansas City Royals has been billed as Show Your Patriotism week at Comerica Park.
For the Santiagos -- Ramon, his sons Andres and Raymond and wife Andrea -- being American is as important as baseball.
"We go back to the Dominican in the winter, but we're going to buy a house, maybe in Florida," Santiago said.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or pafarrell@freepress.com.
Join Free Press special writer Sean Merriman for a live blog of the Tigers-Twins game Thursday afternoon at freep.com/sports.

Detroit Tigers' Dave Dombrowski: Second base won't be reason we win or lose AL Central
By Josh Slagter | jslagter@mlive.com


Ramon Santiago appears to have settled in as the Detroit Tigers' regular second baseman.

Detroit Tigers president Dave Dombrowski doesn't want to show his hand when it comes to a potential trade, but he also might not be sharing the fans' angst about a certain infield position, either.

"I don't think second base is going to be the reason why we win or lose the division,"
Dombrowski told Bill Simonson of The Huge Show on Tuesday.

"We have not received the production over the whole year at second base, but I will say that (Ramon) Santiago has played much better in recent times."

Santiago has started nine of the last 10 games for the Tigers at second base, and has raised his average from .206 to .228. He's hitting .286 in June with two home runs and 11 RBI.

Detroit (36-38) is 6-4 in its last 10 games after
Tuesday's 7-5 loss to Texas, just three games back of the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central, despite a sub-.500 record.

Despite Santiago's improved hitting of late, the Tigers' second baseman still have
the worst combined batting average (.202) in the American League and only are ahead of Milwaukee in the majors (.174).

Detroit's second basemen have 11 total extra-base hits in 74 games. Only San Francisco's have fewer (six).

"If you can get better (via trade), you'll do that, but some of our other people will have to step up," Dombrowski said. "Second base for us is more of a complimentary position, and you have to have some of those positions on your ballclub. Not everybody is going to be a star."

The most recent name to be floated as a possible infield trade target of the Tigers is
Houston Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie. Lowrie, who has 13 home runs this season, has played 31 games at second base during his five-year career.

Or maybe
Detroit could set its sights on another Houston infielder, Jose Altuve. Altuve's missed the last couple of games with a strained hamstring, but still leads all second baseman with a .309 average.

Tigers' Ramon Santiago Gets the Most Out of His Positive Attitude detroitnews.com
Among rare moments Ramon Santiago questions is how he lost last August's dance contest to Jose Valverde.
Santiago is sitting at a table, sipping Espresso, in the downtown Doubletree Fort Shelby Hotel. And he still can't believe he lost.
"I don't know, man," the Tigers' gold-hearted infielder said, shaking his head and breaking into one of his trademark giggles at how this upset occurred during a fundraiser for Jack's Place for Autism. "He just started moving his belly and everybody think it was funny.
"He don't know how to dance."
Santiago is as nimble on a dance floor and with a quip as he is playing second base, or short, or third. He is as upbeat — and substantive — in conversation as he is in accepting a role heavy on contribution and light on adulation.
If the Tigers ever decide to sculpt another of those statues at Comerica Park and dedicate it to their patron saint of good cheer, Santiago will join Al Kaline, Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Willie Horton, etc., among the commemorated and do so unanimously.
"I think he's probably one of the most, if not the most, popular guy on the club — and a pretty good dancer from what I understand," Leyland said last week, joking only about the Fred Astaire stuff. "He's just one of those guys with a great personality, he's a treat to manage, and he does a very good job. I wouldn't really call him a utility player. He's just a good, solid player with a good approach to the game on a daily basis."
Leyland is the right guy to talk about Santiago.
The two have been united since Leyland decided, about five minutes into his first spring camp as Tigers manager in 2006, that a kid as sure-handed and as steady-armed as Santiago would eliminate one potential headache. He would be his backup infielder and late-innings defensive replacement.
Surprising, in one sense, given that Santiago had been signed as a minor league free agent during the offseason after washing out with the Mariners. Surprising, too, in that Santiago was giving it another crack with a team that had abandoned him after the 2003 season and made him part of a January 2004 trade with the Mariners for a shortstop named Carlos Guillen.
Santiago was 26 when he reported to Lakeland, Fla., in 2006, but in baseball years might have felt as if he were 50.
The master of sugar-and-spice temperament had been through a lot. Not all of it reassuring.
Spirit gone, regained
There had been surgery on his right shoulder in 2000 that had robbed a rifle-armed shortstop of some critical strength. More painfully, there had been two spirit-breaking incidents with the Mariners, in consecutive springs, nearly identical for their cruelty.
Santiago had made the Mariners' big league team in both 2004 and 2005. Each time, a day before Opening Day, he was dropped when the transaction wire delivered a new and more enticing name: Jolbert Cabrera in a trade in '04, Wilson Valdez from the waiver wire in '05.
"Had one of the best spring trainings I ever had in 2004," Santiago said, describing what in days would become a nightmare. "We go to San Diego for two exhibition games ahead of Opening Day, and boom!"
From a new big league life in a pretty town he was prepared to love, Santiago was being shipped back to the bushes. With the heartbreak came personal consequences.
"I lost my love for the game that year," Santiago said, putting down his Espresso. "I let everything bring me down that year. I was struggling.
"I was always sitting in my room, frustrated," he says of returning to Triple A Tacoma and another season of bus trips and no-frills hotels. "Sometimes, I didn't even want to eat. My roommate (Elpidio Guzman), he always bring me food, always watching my back."
It led to an intervention by a sports psychologist, Dr. Jack Curtis, and none too soon.
"We sit together and talk about baseball, about regaining emotion for the game," Santiago recalled. "After that point, a completely new player. Boom!"
The new mind-set — focusing on what Santiago could control and not what he couldn't — kept him sane a year later when he again had made the Mariners only to see Valdez arrive on a waiver wire Santiago was by now ready to throw into Puget Sound.
Seven months later, after batting .252 at Tacoma and .125 in eight games with the Mariners, he was released. Whatever new life he had in baseball would be spent elsewhere.
Juan Encarnacion, a former Tigers bright light, told Santiago of the Marlins' interest in him and said not to sign with anyone until Santiago and the Marlins talked.
The Tigers, though, had called. They needed organizational depth and liked a one-time family member who had perhaps been called up too early, with too high of expectations, for them not to want Santiago back in Detroit.
There also was a new manager in charge: Leyland. Finally, after all those sadistic setbacks, it was Santiago's turn.
"From not having a job in the offseason, you have a year like I had," Santiago, now 32, said of 2006 and the Tigers' parallel turnaround, from an ugly big league franchise to a contender. "Spring training, I make the team. We go to the World Series.
"Wow, that's a big jump," he said, with a squeaky giggle. "A really good decision I make."
'Everything he's got'
A less noble player could perhaps argue otherwise. Santiago has had to sit and play part-time during his Tigers tenure as others have gotten longer shifts. During this year's spring camp, Santiago watched Brandon Inge get a sustained tryout at second base. He never said a word.
He has seen Ryan Raburn and Jhonny Peralta prevail in the days since Placido Polanco departed and the now-retired Guillen moved from shortstop. Santiago was viewed only as a partial answer.
A year ago, it was Will Rhymes and not Santiago who began the season as the starting second baseman.
Santiago doesn't necessarily buy organizational thoughts that he's not an everyday player. He isn't sure about that, even if other clubs seemed to agree this past offseason, when Santiago was a free agent looking for more regular work and a fatter contract and failed to find either, at least sufficient to say goodbye to Detroit.
In the end, he was happy to re-up with the Tigers. He loved the city and its fans. He cared even more for a manager and for teammates who consider him the gift that keeps giving.
"He's always smiling, always got a great attitude," said Don Kelly, another of the Tigers' handymen. "As a teammate, he gives you everything he's got every day. It really doesn't matter what's going on, or how he's playing. He gives you everything."
Santiago's ethic, he will tell you, is all due to upbringing. He was born outside of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the town of Las Matas de Farfan, one of 12 kids in a blended family.
His father, Cristino, was in charge of a 200-acre farm that had originally been owned by Ramon's grandfather. Ramon and his siblings were asked to help, but never with a sense it, too, would be their life.
"He just wanted us to carry water and food to the workers," Ramon said. "We have a good work ethic, but my father didn't want me to be a farmer. Just study and play baseball. Do different things that would be useful to us. He never wanted us to be what he was."
Ramon had no problem there, in either case. He was good in school and particularly skilled in math. And he was deft at baseball. Not exclusively as an infielder.
"I was our closer," he said, with yet another giggle. "I closed a couple of innings. Throw all fastballs."
He was 14 when a scout for the Yankees, Victor Mata, saw him and said the Yankees would sign him as soon as Santiago turned 16. A teenager who had no dream grander than playing in the big leagues was deliriously happy.
Two years later, the Tigers' chief Dominican scout, Ramon Pena, informed Santiago of a tryout camp he wanted Santiago to attend. A school coach was sent to get Santiago clearance from that afternoon's math class, where Santiago was busy preparing for college and for life as an accountant.
"The teacher say, 'Good luck,'" Santiago recalled. "Five minutes later, I signed."
He got $5,000, along with his boyhood friend, Victor Mendez, an outfielder.
"My dad say to them: 'Give them the same amount. They're like brothers,'" Santiago said. "I was so happy to sign. I liked baseball so much."
Feels like home now
He played in the Tigers' Dominican Republic academy until moving to the United States and rookie ball in 1999, at Lakeland, where he joined the Gulf Coast League Tigers.
Baseball was his job. But acclimating to a new country and its ways was his challenge.
"Tough first year," Santiago said. "New food. New culture. I remember sitting at Fetzer Hall (Tigers' minor league dorm) in the cafeteria at 5 o'clock. Nothing to do. No cars.
"They try to do everything to make you comfortable, but it was tough."
When he arrived home that autumn of 1999, 15 pounds gone from a body that was none too robust to begin with, he weighed an emaciated 150.
"When my mom saw me, she almost cried," Santiago recalled (giggle encore). "They (parents) expect you to come back nice. She said: 'What happened to you?'
"I was just so skinny."
Santiago settled into American food and into a new profile as a switch-hitter. A natural right-handed batter who now hits better from the left side had been watching a particular player on those few telecasts (TBS and WGN) that could be picked up in the Dominican.
"I always watched Chipper Jones," Santiago said of the great Braves third baseman and switch-hitter. "I knew it was gonna help me."
He worked religiously on his English, as well, and has since distinguished himself as one of the most fluently bilingual of all Tigers players. He got busy soon enough adjusting to another North American reality: cold weather. That transition, he said, was made possible by former Tigers reliever and Santiago teammate, Fernando Rodney, when both played at Single A West Michigan in 2000.
"Hey, Santy," Rodney would say, using Santiago's eternal nickname. "The cold — it's all mental."
Santiago wondered if his shivering arms and Rodney's brain were having different experiences.
"I don't want to lie to you," Santiago said. "It was cold. You go from 85 degrees in the Dominican to 30 or 40 at West Michigan, it's a big drop. I just tried to make the most of it."
In fact, he loved West Michigan — the people, the crowds, the playoff season the Whitecaps put together. Two years later, having come back from a torn labrum, and having survived a bad case of springtime strep throat, Santiago was at Double A Erie "freezing again," he added, with one more high-decibel chuckle.
A month later, he was in Detroit. And 10 years later, he is playing in his ninth season for the Tigers. He has a two-year contract through 2013 ($4.2 million).
He has something else he loves even more: a family. He and his wife, Andrea, have been married for four years. They have two sons, Raymond, 2, and Andres, 1, and, yes, that was Raymond literally winding up and throwing pitches last week to Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones during pregame batting practice.
Jones gently knocked the ball back to Raymond, dressed in a SANTIAGO jersey and uniform, who picked it up, wound up again, and threw a series of strikes to the beaming Jones.
The Santiagos have a lovely apartment at the Fort Shelby Hotel, where they live alongside neighbors Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit.
It's a couple of minutes to the ballpark. It's in the heart of a city Santiago and his family love: the trips to Belle Isle, the easy access to restaurants, or up I-75 to a mall.
In that Tigers clubhouse, Santiago finds more joy in the kinship he shares with teammates, he said, "I really love and who love me, too."
"I try to keep everything loose in the clubhouse," he said. "Really, I'm a very happy guy. Every day you wake up in life, it's a gift. It's a beautiful life — no matter what."

No second guessing, Tigers' Ramon Santiago quietly does his job
Detroit — As a measure of appreciation for Ramon Santiago, the Tigers should ponder a special tribute, given in his name, to the occasional saint listed on their roster.
Call it:
The Guy Who Does His Job And Shuts His Mouth Even When He Has Reason To Scream Award. No, it can't be a word or two briefer, because paying full appreciation to Santiago for what he's dealing with in 2012 is more worthy of a legislative resolution rather than any plaque or trophy.
This second-base situation the Tigers are attempting to handle by way of consortium is a doozy. It is challenging, and quite an exception to an otherwise elegantly equipped team. It will also be the most likely area of attention in July when Tigers front-office commando Dave Dombrowski begins hot-lining his cohorts in Dombrowski's annual bid to make a trade-deadline deal that can put a contender closer to a World Series.
Ryan Raburn was supposed to have straightened out his yearly tendencies to treat the first half of a season like spring break. But after setting afire the Grapefruit League during those early weeks in Florida, Raburn hasn't hit for most of the past month. Raburn will bash the ball like Joe DiMaggio once your Fourth of July picnic convenes, but until then, history tells us it could be chilly in Raburnland.
Brandon Inge got a reprieve via his $6 million contract and made a roster he otherwise wouldn't have cracked. But in considering past Tigers who kept their jobs by way of contract — Damion Easley, Bobby Higginson (2005), Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson — it always has been a brief matter of time until those contracts were bought out or moved and other, more deserving people, were employed.
That, almost assuredly, will be Inge's fate in 2012. The question is when. And the tea leaves, as well as big-league baseball's business cycle, suggest it will be sometime in July.
Turn then to Santiago, who is the steadiest of the above trio, defensively and offensively. No, he is not the answer at second base. The Tigers have every right to believe he won't hold up as an everyday player. In fact, other scouts and clubs made the same determination during the past offseason when Santiago hit free agency.
But the lesson Santiago brings to the Tigers is astonishing. He has as much professional and personal pride as any player on the team. And yet he does not pout, does not talk behind his bosses' backs, does not display resentment toward Raburn, or Inge, or Danny Worth when Worth is in the mix. Nor does he hold any grudges against anyone on planet Earth, from all that can be discerned six years into his tenure in Detroit.
That's an admirable and enduring ethic.

Jim Leyland reveals opening day lineup, Santiago at second, Raburn DH

Shades may have prevented Cabrera from serious injury
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ramon Santiago looked out at an empty Joker Marchant Stadium, sunshine reflecting off the silver seat decals on a clear Wednesday morning, which presented one of the main reasons why he likes to wear sunglasses playing in the infield during day games.
"For myself, I recommend them, because [of the brightness] of the seats," Santiago said. "You see the seat? You see the bright? That's bad for us, because that's the background. With glasses, you don't see it like that."
When the seats aren't completely filled for, say, a sunny Thursday afternoon game at Comerica Park, he'll have to battle the decals. When the seats are filled, he said, he'll be fighting himself to pick out the ball from the backdrop of fans in white summer shirts.
Guarding his face has never been one of his reasons. But he's sure glad it worked out that way for Miguel Cabrera.
"We didn't expect that to happen when we talked about glasses," Santiago said. That was his guard. If you look now, it was very important that he got the glasses, or I don't know, maybe he doesn't have an eye today. As hard as the ball bounced, man, he didn't have time for nothing. It was scary, man."
Santiago doesn't want to take credit for it, or suggest he talked Cabrera into getting sunglasses. He just relayed the way he feels about them, why he's one of the few in baseball who will wear sunglasses basically whenever he's on the field during a day game when the sun's out.
"You play six night games and you play a day game, the brightness can get to you," Santiago said. "I've got sensitive eyes, so I have to wear them. So what I try to do is wear them all I can in day games.
"I always hit with them. Sometimes, I don't play with them, but most of the time I hit with them and play defense with them, so I'm protected."
Others include Blue Jays All-Star Jose Bautista, though he spends most of his time as an outfielder and plays just sparingly at third base these days.
Cabrera had talked with Santiago about that around the time a representative from one of the sunglass manufacturers, Oakley, came into camp for an annual visit to gather product orders.
"I said, 'Hey, this is your guy right here,'" Santiago recalled. "And he went there, talked to the guy, and got a couple pairs of glasses. ...
"So Miggy started using them and he was feeling good. He can hit anyway, but he was feeling comfortable. The thing was, he didn't know if he was going to be able to see the ball OK with the glasses."
After Monday's scare, it's likely Cabrera's feeling very comfortable with them on.
"Thank God he was wearing them," Santiago said, "because it was going to be right in the eye."

Tigers' Ramon Santiago sad to see Carlos Guillen retire | Detroit Free Press
March 8th, 2012
LAKELAND -- Ramon Santiago said he was surprised to learn that former teammate Carlos Guillen announced his retirement on Tuesday.
Santiago was part of the 2004 trade with the Seattle Mariners that brought Guillen to the Tigers. Santiago returned to the Tigers as a free agent in 2006.
Santiago said he hadn't heard the news about Guillen's decision before he called to check in on him.
"We started talking and later he told me he retired," Santiago said on Wednesday morning at Joker Marchant Stadium. "I wish him the best, you know. Enjoy his family now. He's going to have more time to spend with his family.
"I was surprised because I saw him in the winter and we talked a little bit and he told me was going to play with Seattle."
Guillen, 36, was limited by injuries over the past three seasons. He hit .285 hitter in 14 seasons with the Mariners and Tigers.
"He helped me a lot," Santiago said. "He teach me a lot when I first come back here in 2006. He helped me with my hitting. He helped me with the experience, too. He's one of the teammates that helped me the most when he was here."
Contact George Sipple: 313-223-4796 or gsipple@freepress.com.

Tigers bloggers unveil 2011 award winners

Not a whole lot shaking out here in Dallas yet, at least as far as the Tigers are concerned.
So that gives me a a good opportunity to take a brief look back at 2011.
Late last week, Kurt Mensching, managing editor of the Bless You Boys blog, unveiled the winners of the 2011 DIBS (Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes) honors. Twenty-two writers from 17 sites voted on nine awards.
Here are the results:
Most Valuable Player: Justin Verlander, probably just edging David Pauley. One voter cast a ballot for Justguel Cabrander. Took me a minute. I get it.
Best Rookie: Al Alburquerque. With that filthy slider, he was a strikeout machine. At one point, I beleve he was averaging four an inning. Or was that Austin Jackson? I don’t remember. “He played so well it was hard to remember there were other rookies,” Kurt said of Alburquerque.
Best Role Player: Ramon Santiago. Regular season, sure. Postseason, my pick is Don Kelly, though Santiago was no slouch there either. From Kurt: “It feels like he’s been a Tiger forever, but he has really come into his own.”
Best Moment: Jackson’s game-ending throw home to beat the Indians in August. My pick, too, though Jim Leyland’s Oscar-winning ejection comes to mind as well. But Jackson’s play was huge. For starters, who knew he had that kind of arm? It also was a huge game against the AL Central-rival Indians, and preserved Jose Valverde’s saves streak.
Team Clown: Phil Coke. Valverde didn’t even place? Someone get Al Gore’s lawyers on the phone!
Best Hair: Alex Avila. Ah, now this was thinking outside the box. “Avila could shave before the first inning and sport a full beard by the third. His 5 o’clock shadow begins at midnight,” Kurt said.
Tiger Organization Name of the Year: Doug Fister. Uh, not going there.
Goofiest Moment: Three-way tie — a) Sparks flying off Avila’s mask, b) Andy Dirks going full speed around the bases for an inside-the-park home run; only problem, the ball had been caught; and c) that classic Leyland ejection. Others receiving multiple votes: Verlander’s strange balk, Kelly pitching, Ryan Raburn turning a diving catch into a home run (only Ryan Raburn!), and Victor Martinez’s “Dancing with the Stars” routine at home.
Best Victor Martinez: Senior. The designated hitter beat out his son, Victor Jose, in a super-close vote — 12-9! Little Victor is adorable. He’s always in his Tigers uniform. He plays pepper. He’s a switch-hitter! All dad does is hit .330. Booooring.

Jest in time: Ramon Santiago says he'll be Tigers' new DH
Rod Beard / The Detroit News
January 19, 2012


"Ramon Santiago had five homers and 30 RBI in 258 at-bats in 2011. - John T. Greilick / Detroit News
The Tigers' Winter Caravan made its first stop in Detroit on Thursday afternoon, as several players visited their young fans at Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Doug Fister and Ramon Santiago were among the 10 players who made private visits and brought gifts for the children.
Coming off an appearance in the American League Championship Series, the Tigers have higher expectations for 2012, but know their play on the field ultimately will determine their fate
"That's good to have expectations, but we don't win games through expectations -- we have to play hard and that's the best way to win games," Cabrera said. "We have to go out there and perform."
The Tigers were dealt a blow this week when designated hitter Victor Martinez suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It is expected that he will miss most, if not all, of the regular season. But Cabrera said the Tigers have to focus on who they have, not who will be missing.
"Victor is a big part of our team (but) we have to still go out there and play hard and believe in the team we have in the clubhouse," Cabrera said. "We still have great starting pitching and bullpen, but we'll have to score runs and play defense."
Santiago jokingly volunteered himself to fill in as DH.
"I'll be ready for whatever (manager Jim Leyland) needs me to do," Santiago said. "They can count on me to supply the power."
Even with snow on the ground outside, Santiago said it's not too early to start thinking about baseball again.
"When January comes, that's when you start feeling like the spring training is coming soon, so you start getting ready and start working out," Santiago said. "I've been doing my training and trying to get in shape for the springtime."

Possible Ripples from Ramon Santiago’s Return
In a move sure to send major shock waves through the free agent market, the Detroit Tigers have reportedly re-signed Ramon Santiago to a two-year, $4.2 million contract. The city of Detroit has declared a municipal holiday to celebrate the return of their long-time utility infielder…. But seriously, folks, while this looks (and in some way is) like a contending team making a sound-if-unexceptional decision to bring back a helpful utility player, this is a pretty interesting signing. It is not just that Santiago is better than he’s being paid to be. Bringing back Santiago also opens up possibilities for the Tigers this off-season if they are willing to explore them.
To those who do not value defense or position, it may look like the current off-season has been a banner year for middle infielders, with 
Jamey CarrollMark Ellis, and Clint Barmes all getting somewhat surprising two-year deals for considerably more than Santiago got from Detroit. Of course, they are all considered full-time players, while Santiago is a utility player. But is there really that much of a difference? Those three players are all somewhere around 1.5 or two wins players, true talent (Ellis probably a bit less). Santiago put up two WAR in 2010 and 1.4 in 2011, and that was in barely half-time play. Of course, that also means his performances need to be regressed a fair bit due to the small sample, and he is not exactly young. Santiago does not offer much offensively, but it compares well to his peers listed above. The Hardball Times Oliver projectionfor Santiago in 2012 is for a .297 wOBA, which is about 10 runs below average over a full season. However, given that Santiago has been above average at shortstop (the position he has played the most) over the years, that would make him about a two-win player. So 1.5 to two wins seems like a fair projection over a full season. The Tigers are getting a bargain here.
That is a good thing, but not the most interesting aspect of the deal from my perspective. It is unlikely that the Tigers are going to play Santiago full-time. However, for a contending team, spending more on a marginal win makes sense, and Santiago’s ability to play shortstop, third, and second well means that he’s a good stopgap if one of the starters get seriously injured.
But Santiago’s signing also gives the Tigers additional flexibility in their off-season decision-making, if they are willing to look at him as more than a part-time player. There seems to be some buzz around Santiago and
Ryan Raburn platooning at second base. That is a decent way to leverage two players who are somewhat iffy as full-time starters. Santiago is a switch hitter, but for his career he only has hit right-handed pitching a bit better than lefties. Raburn, on the other hand, has hit lefties far better than righties. So offensively, this leverages Raburn’s assets better than Santiago’s, although that also helps the team. Of course, the problem is that while Santiago is a good middle infielder, Raburn is terrible as a defensive second baserman, which could negate much of what will be gained by an inefficient platoon.
While the platoon is not a bad idea, when I mention the flexibility that Santiago could provide, I was referring to potential infield and outfield configurations for the 2012 Tigers. As it stands today, the non-
Miguel Cabrera part of the infield looks like a Santiago/Raburn platoon at second, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop, and Zombie Brandon Inge at third. As of now, the outfield is Austin Jackson in center, with Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch on the corners. It is not an intimidating group, but the Tigers are in the less-than-intimidating American League Central, and they are currently the best team in the division. There is room for improvement, of course, s I will briefly suggest how.
I am assuming the Tiger realize they need to do something about third base. Of course, if they had not traded 
Scott Sizemore for a bag of decidedly non-magical beans, they would already have an inexpensive, workable solution at third base. That is water under the bridge. However, the key might be how they handle the outfield. If the Tigers think Brennan Boesch can handle right on an every day basis, they could move Raburn to left and non-tender Delmon Young, saving themselves about $6 million in the process. Some people still refuse to believe it, but despite Young being non-horrible in 2010 and hitting some home runs in the 2011 playoffs, he still isn’t very good. Oliver actually forecasts Raburn to slightly out-hit Young in 2012, .333 wOBA to .327. And while Raburn isn’t exactly Brett Gardner in left, he’s surely better defensively than Young in the outfield. By letting Santiago play second full-time and putting Raburn in left, the Tigers would probably not lose much if anything on offensive, improve their defense at two positions, and save $6 million that could go to addressing other needs. (Maybe if they promise to fill Oakland’s clubhouse soda machines for the next 20 years, they can get Sizemore back.)
If the Tigers do not want to let Raburn play every day, they could always put him in a platoon with Boesch. That would probably do as much for the team as a Raburn/Santiago platoon, and would allow them to keep Delmon Young if they just can’t help themselves. Just non-tendering Young and putting Raburn in left seems like the best solution to me, however. There are other possibilities that are opened up by letting Santiago be their primary second baseman — perhaps moving Peralta to third and making a run at 
Jose Reyes or a cheaper option like Rafael Furcal. These are mere speculations, and I do not want to be any more speculative than I already have been in this post. By getting Santiago at a relative bargain compared to similar players, the Tigers have given themselves positional and payroll flexibility to make further good moves. Hopefully for Detroit fans, the front office is open to a number of different possibilities beyond the obvious.

Detroit Tigers bring back fan favorite Ramon Santiago
The Detroit Tigers continued their blockbuster offseason by bringing back Ramon Santiago for another two years at around $4M guaranteed. Fresh on the heels of the Gerald Laird signing and everyone’s favorite 3rd base coach Gene Lamont notgetting the Red Sox job, and fans can hardly contain themselves.
Ramon Santiago
Or something like that.
The good news is, everybody loves Ramon, and he’s coming back to warm your heart with his solid middle infield defense and mid .200’s batting average. With Ramon, you know what you’re going to get, and that’s a veteran contributor who has endeared himself to the Tiger organization.
However, the message sent by the Santiago signing is less clear than the city’s love for the Dominican-born player. Bringing him back certainly might indicate that the Tigers are settling in for another year of a lefty-righty platoon of Santiago and Ryan Raburn.
In his now standard off-season ambiguity, GM Dave Dombrowski said the following, “We are set to open with Santiago and Raburn. However, we will see what happens.”
It is well-documented at this point in his career that Raburn doesn’t deserve to see the field much in the season’s first half but can barely afford to be off it in the second. This is a combo that won’t be great, but it should be good enough should Detroit go that route.
The subtle part about this move is that it doesn’t necessarily commit the Tigers to the aforementioned platoon. Martin Prado is still on the wish list and, is it just me, or does Raburn seem like an ideal fit for a National League team? Perhaps the Tigers could package him up in the last year of his deal along with some other moveable parts to bring in a full-time 2nd baseman.
Plus, guys like Kelly Johnson and some other marginal free agent talent are still out there, though not very intriguing.
The Tigers continue to have potential holes to fill in left field and at 3rd base as well as the back end of their starting rotation.
Bringing back Ramon provides continuity and certainty to a team that enjoys having that, but it doesn’t put the Tigers over the top in their quest to claim the American League in 2012.
The clock is slowly ticking and the natives, though not quite restless, are perhaps getting anxious.

Tigers sign Ramon Santiago to two-year, $4 million deal
Last Updated: November 30. 2011 1:00AM
Tom Gage/ The Detroit News
Detroit— He ventured out into free agency, took a look around — and came right back.
The Tigers were pleased for many reasons Wednesday to re-sign infielder Ramon Santiago to a two-year, $4 million contract.
They were pleased because a month ago they thought the chances of retaining him weren't in their favor.
At 32, Santiago was looking for more playing time - but didn't find it. At least he didn't find it elsewhere. But he might have found it with the Tigers.
When asked if the team is no longer in the market for a starting second baseman, now that Santiago is returning, manager Jim Leyland said, "That's a fair question, and we'll have to see how the rest of the off-season plays out.
"But I will say this, on the record: I'd be very comfortable with Ryan Raburn and Santiago at second base."
In a platoon situation, in other words.
That appears to be the plan. But such a plan is a tangent of all the other reasons the Tigers are pleased to have Santiago back — among them his popularity.
"With his teammates, he could be the most popular player we have," Leyland said. "I'm thrilled to have him back. He's happy with what he got and feels we were fair, and we're happy with what we gave him.
"It doesn't get any better than that. This is a situation in which everybody wins."
The Tigers always have looked at Santiago as less than a full-time player, though. They've not changed their opinion. He won't come close to starting every day.
But by resting him, they believe they'll continue to get the most out of him — as they feel they did this year.
Santiago hit .295 the second half of the season with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 129 at- bats.
In 75 games at second base, where he'll probably get most of his playing time in 2012, he hit .289.
As a sign of his versatility, however, Santiago also played in 27 games at short and five at third. At the three positions combined, he made only three errors.
"All sides win with a signing like this," Leyland said. "I called him three weeks ago and assured him that we wanted him to come back. But the way this worked out was perfect. He got a chance to see what was out there as a free agent, but now he's coming back and both sides are happy about it."
It also was smart of Santiago to agree when he did.
With Maicer Izturis rumors swirling, he didn't want the Tigers' front office to get to the winter meetings next week, start poking around for another second baseman, and suddenly have his safety net of a guaranteed contract disappear.
So now he's got his contract and the Tigers don't have to poke around — although Leyland said he anticipates "a lot of trade talk next week."
For the Tigers specifically?
"No, I mean involving everybody," Leyland said. "I think there will be a lot of it going on — and my general manager (Dave Dombrowski) is as good as it gets when it comes to that. He leaves no stone unturned.
"Will we make a deal? I'm not saying that. I don't mean that at all. I have no predictions about that. But Dave is willing to listen, and to talk about things, and that's what makes him good."
On Dombrowski's shopping list, however, is one less infielder.

Tigers Infielder Ramon Santiago a Go-To Guy On, Off Field
Detroit Free Press | freep.com
Before the Tigers left for New York, Willie Horton -- per his routine -- went on his clubhouse rounds.
He settled into an unoccupied chair in front of Don Kelly's stall and swiveled left toward infielder Ramon Santiago, who was two lockers away.
"This is always one of my favorite stops," said the former Tigers great, who's a special assistant with the team.
Santiago was finishing a conversation with Austin Jackson. In a few minutes, Delmon Young would drop by with a couple of practice bats, and for a quick chat.
"See how everyone in the clubhouse goes to him?" Horton said. "People don't realize that he's one of the leaders in this clubhouse. Everyone -- veterans, young guys -- go to him."
Indeed. It doesn't matter if the Tigers are up or down, winning or losing, you'd be hard-pressed to find a player who's universally more liked and respected than the 32-year-old veteran from the Dominican Republic.
And for someone who has never been an everyday player, even manager Jim Leyland knows that's saying a lot.
"He's one of the most popular players on the team, to be honest with you -- maybe the most popular," Leyland said. "He's a great guy. He just mixes in with everybody. He means a lot to us -- switch-hitter, can hit from both sides; he makes plays at short or second. Those guys are hard to find."
Santiago didn't play in Game 1 of the American League Division Series -- still awaiting his first appearance in a division series. Ryan Raburn at second base, Jhonny Peralta at shortstop.
The last time the Tigers were in the playoffs -- 2006 -- Santiago was on the postseason roster but didn't play until the American League Championship Series, twice starting at shortstop in their four-game sweep of Oakland.
In his 10th season, eight in two stints with the Tigers, Santiago said that although he valued any role, he hadn't given up his goal of being an everyday infielder.
His carries only a .249 career average. He played in 107 games during the season (starting 62). He batted .260 and finished with 30 RBIs and five home runs. But in his last 52 games, he hit .300 with four homers and 23 RBIs.
"I understand my role, but I wouldn't mind if I got an opportunity to play every day," Santiago said with a smile. "When you don't play every day, it's like you have to prepare double. Baseball is about rhythm, and when you play every day, you have rhythm. But I try to stay positive and have a good attitude. So when I'm playing, I'm the happiest guy ever, and when I'm not playing, I'm the happiest guy ever, too, because I'm trying to help my teammates."
Teammate Miguel Cabrera said he owes a lot of his success this season -- he won the batting title -- to Santiago's support.
"His personality -- he gets along with a lot of guys because you can count on him," Cabrera said. "He's a true person, 100%. He's always going to tell you the truth. He's always going to tell you if you're doing wrong. But he's also going to be the first one to (pat) your back when you need somebody next to you."
The two are so close, Cabrera said, they're "like brothers." They often sit next to each other on the plane and go out for meals.
Santiago said of their friendship: "I let him know, 'I'm here for you.' "
Because the Tigers often play better when the atmosphere is loose in the clubhouse, closer Jose Valverde said Santiago, with Cabrera, would sometimes get up and start dancing in an attempt to keep the mood light before games.
"These two guys are always joking, doing funny stuff," Valverde said this past week, laughing. "When it gets too quiet, we're like, 'What's going on?' because those guys are laughing all the time.
"Like (Santiago) can be doing (an) interview and after that, he will go to the kitchen and hit somebody in the face. Santiago is a guy that everybody wants to be around. When he's playing second base, short -- or even third base -- I'm never nervous because he'll always do the most he can to stop that baseball. He puts his heart on the field."
Santiago said former Tigers pitcher Jose Lima taught him that being a good teammate was as valuable as being a good player.
"He showed me how to be a big leaguer," Santiago said of Lima, who died of a heart attack last year at age 37.
Santiago said he still was learning. When the Tigers traded him and Juan Gonzalez (a minor leaguer, not the former MVP of the same name) to Seattle in 2003 for Carlos Guillen, Santiago -- who has endured two shoulder surgeries -- remembers being in such a funk that he almost quit. (He eventually returned to the Tigers in 2006 after the club signed him as a free agent when he was released by the Mariners.)
During that time, he saw a sports psychologist who gave him the advice Santiago readily shares with his teammates today.
"He said, 'You can't worry about the outcome; worry about your approach,' " Santiago said.
His bond with his teammates was undoubtedly the reason they gave him a celebration to remember after he hit his first career walk-off home run Aug. 30 in a 2-1 victory over Kansas City. Santiago had entered the game late as a pinch-runner.
It was the 24th home run of his career, and Santiago said he was treated like a hero. He received a shaving-cream pie in the face from Valverde. Later in the clubhouse, the players formed a circle, cued up Latin and Caribbean music, and cheered as Santiago did his "Reggaeton" dance in the middle.
Horton, who said Santiago, as a player, was like a "sixth man on a basketball team," believes his best is yet to come. From what Horton has observed the past decade, he thinks Santiago would be a good coach or manager once his playing career is over.
"He has that kind of leadership," Horton said. "He's got the baseball knowledge. He's smart.
"He sees things."
Contact Jo-Ann Barnas: 313-222-2037 or jbarnas@freepress.com .

The Rise of Ramon Santiago AUTHOR: John Parent Sept 10th, 2011
Utilityman Ramon Santiago has been through ups and downs during his 10-year major league career. After performing reasonably well as a part-timer in 2002, he was the starting shortstop at age 23 the next year. Unfortunately, Santiago, like many of his teammates with the 2003 Detroit Tigers, wasn’t quite ready for prime time and turned in a sub-par season.
In an effort to get better quickly, the Tigers acquired shortstop
Carlos Guillen from Seattle that winter, in exchange, Detroit sent Santiago and a minor leaguer to the Mariners. After two years of shuttling back and forth from Triple-A, the Mariners released the young switch-hitter. The Tigers wasted little time in bringing him back to Detroit.
Santiago has been a fixture of the Tigers roster ever since, but rarely has he been given an honest chance at being an everyday player again. He’s too small to play everyday, his body will break down. There are too many holes in his game; holes that reveal themselves if he is overexposed. Those were the arguments for keeping Santiago firmly entrenched in his utility role. The success that he did have in his limited action was used as fuel for those arguments instead of disproving them. He plays better when he’s not out there everyday, they said.
The problem with all that, from a fan’s perspective, is that apart from the lousy 2003 team, Santiago was never given a chance to prove he could be an everyday player.
This year, the Tigers opened the season with
Will Rhymes manning second base, when Rhymes was sent to the minors it was Scott Sizemore‘s turn at the job. Sizemore was traded away and Ryan Raburn got the lion’s share of the at bats at second base. All of these guys were simply keeping the spot warm until Guillen could return and reclaim his starting job at second. Guillen came off the shelf just after the all-star break, but didn’t hit all that well. In mid-August, less than a month after being activated, Guillen was hurt again. This time, Santiago was called upon to play in a platoon with Raburn at second, but it didn’t take long before Santiago’s bat got hot and that, coupled with his superior glovework, moved him to the top of the Tigers’ depth chart at long last.
Santiago has played in 23 of the club’s last 25 games, usually starting three or four in a row before getting a break for a few innings in the next game, only to be called upon as a defensive replacement. The Tigers are 17-6 in the 23 games in which Santiago has played. Now a seasoned veteran, Santiago has been red-hot over the past month. He’s posted a .303 average, .364 OBP, and .924 OPS in his last 80 plate appearances. Four of his five home runs this season, including a two-run shot to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead last night, have come in those last 23 games.
Guillen was activated from the DL on September 1, but he’s only played in two games since then and gotten just one start. Raburn has also seen a drastic reduction in his playing time of late as Santiago has stolen the job out from under both men.
Santiago is a feel-good story for sure; a smaller-than-average ballplayer who has sneaky power and a flair for the dramatic. But if he wasn’t hitting, he wouldn’t be playing. Rhymes won the Opening Day job this year because of how well he hit at the end of the 2010 season. Let’s hope Jim Leyland gives the same consideration to Santiago when Spring Training rolls around next year. He’s finally getting his second chance at a starting job, and he’s more than taking advantage of it.

Ramon Santiago was Mariners mistake times three
Larry Larue, Tacoma News Tribune October 13th, 2011


Ramon Saniago: Wasted in Seattle, beloved in Detroit

Watching infielder
Ramon Santiago play post-season baseball with the Detroit Tigers is a double-edged emotional experience for most Seattle Mariners fans.
Of all the mistakes made by general manager
Bill Bavasi - fill in your own favorite  here – Santiago was among them. Not once, not twice, but three times.
In 2004, weary of his constant injuries, the Mariners sent infielder
Carlos Guillen to Detroit for Santiago and a minor league player. Guillen is still playing although, and cue the ironic music, he hasn’t played in the post-season because of injury. Still, that deal gained the Mariners nothing.
Why not? Well, the next spring, Santiago proved to be a quick, sure-handed shortstop whose bat was a little light but could do most anything with it, from bunting to hitting behind the runner. Teammates embraced him, fans liked him. Two days before the ’05 season began, Bavasi signed utility infielder Wilson Valdez – and sent Santiago to the minors.
The move didn’t go over well in the clubhouse, and after 42 games – and a .198 batting average – Valdez was released. Santiago played only eight games with Seattle that year. Valdez was Bavasi’s second misake with Santiago.
His third? Releasing Santiago in the winter of ’05, after which the Tigers signed him and have kept him ever since.
Valdez is still in the majors and has played 291 games since leaving Seattle. Last year he played for the Phillies. Santiago, meanwhile, has played 439 games since ’05. Not counting the post-season.

Tigers Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago More Like Brothers Than Teammates
NEW YORK -- The praise for Don Kelly flowed through Yankee Stadium late Thursday night, and it wasn't really about his first-inning home run. It was about him. From Justin Verlander: "Oh, man. So exciting. Couldn't be a better guy." From Jim Leyland: "It couldn't happen to a better kid." From Brandon Inge: "He's a great teammate. Just to see him get a chance to do something special. ... I can't say enough about it."
And from the man who understands, better than anybody what this meant for Kelly:
"I'm so happy for him," Ramon Santiago said.
Santiago and Kelly are more than teammates. They are close friends, grinding their way through parallel careers. Their stalls in the Tigers' home clubhouse are next to each other. They talk about their families, about baseball, and about their roles for the Tigers, which are basically the same. They do whatever they are told to do.
"DK," Santiago said, "is like my brother on the team."
Kelly calls Santiago "Sneaky," because FSD analyst Rod Allen says Santiago has "sneaky power," and Santiago isn't exaggerating: DK and Sneaky are sort of like brothers. On Sundays, one reminds the other to go to chapel, and they go together. During games when they're not in the lineup, they go to the batting cage together and flip balls to each other to stay loose.
Of all the great stories in the Tigers' run, the success of Kelly and Santiago is my favorite. If you traveled all across America -- if you bought a hundred plane tickets and talked to a thousand athletes -- you would not find two nicer people in sports than Ramon Santiago and Don Kelly.
Pretty much all ballplayers, on their first day in the major leagues, feel two emotions: They are thrilled to be there, and they dream of being a star. But what do you do when you realize you won't be a star? Since so much of life is context, do you get jealous of your teammates who are making millions and playing every day? Do you blame your manager? Do you give in to bitterness?
Or do you remember how lucky you are?
"You can't lose that," Kelly said. "That's the little edge that I have. There is not one day that goes by that I don't appreciate being in the big leagues. I don't take it for granted at all. Any day you put the uniform on, especially in the big leagues, it's every kid's dream."
Santiago said: "When I'm playing, I'm the happiest guy ever." But what makes him special is his attitude when he
isn't playing. He seems just as happy.
Santiago, a 32-year-old from the Dominican Republic, plays shortstop and second base. The Tigers have held auditions at both positions regularly the past six years. In 2008, Santiago had a .411 on-base percentage and .460 slugging percentage. That winter, the Tigers brought in Adam Everett to play shortstop. When they released Everett the next year, they traded for Jhonny Peralta. It has been the same drill, again and again. But Santiago's smile and work ethic have not shrunk.
Santiago said "I gotta prove every year" that he belonged in the big leagues. Kelly must do the same. They embrace it. Kelly's wife, Carrie, said Don "is a ridiculously positive person. I think that is why he does succeed, because he is constantly positive and optimistic."
Kelly, a 31-year-old from suburban Pittsburgh, has done all he could to create value for the Tigers. On the last day of spring training in 2009, minor league manager Larry Parrish told Kelly to try centerfield. He had never played there before. Kelly is the only active player in the major leagues who has played all nine fielding positions. That isn't just an oddball stat, either. It requires a ton of work. Even when he is in the lineup in the outfield, Kelly takes infield batting practice, just to remain sharp.
"Heck, if I could have stayed at shortstop the rest of my life, I would have done that," Kelly said. "And you know what, it wasn't me. I didn't go into my manager's office in the minor leagues and say, 'Hey, I'd like to play third base today.' It kind of just happened."
Now here they are in the American League Championship Series. Kelly hit .364 against the Yankees. Santiago hasn't hit well, but he has played four games because he is the team's best defensive second baseman.
"You know, I don't know about validation," Kelly said. "That's not something I'm looking for. I go out and work hard every day and try to get better every single day. It's a culmination of working hard and opportunity."
When Kelly hit his home run Thursday night, his wife started crying in her seat on the third-base side. She would cry again when she saw him interviewed on the field after the game, and again when the home run was shown on TV in the champagne-soaked clubhouse.
Even on his triumphant night, though, Kelly's role was the same. He did whatever he was told to do. After the Tigers pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fifth, Leyland wanted to improve his defense, so he inserted Inge to play third base. He moved Kelly from third to rightfield.
But this transition was easy. After playing infield in college and the minor leagues, Kelly has spent more time in the outfield than in the infield. He has played 159 games there, including the playoffs. And he has committed one error.
Join Free Press special writer Nick Meyer for a live blog of Game 1 of the Tigers-Rangers series Saturday night at freep.com/sports.
In the eighth inning of Game 5, Derek Jeter hit a fly ball to deep rightfield. Kelly raced back to the warning track and caught it. After 11 years, nine positions and hundreds of lineup cards that didn't have his name on it, Don Kelly was in the perfect place.

Contact Michael Rosenberg: 313-222-6052 or mrosenberg@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @rosenberg_mike.

Santiago teams with Inge to go 4-for-8 with two RBIs
DETROIT -- For the last month-plus, it seems that every move Tigers manager Jim Leyland makes pays dividends, and Monday's 5-2 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Division Series was no different.
Leyland put infielder Ramon Santiago in the No. 2 spot in the lineup and the much-maligned Brandon Inge at third base, and the two combined to go 4-for-8 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBIs.
"Even in September, skip was on fire," utility man Don Kelly said. "I joked the other day, I don't know if a guy who pinch-hit got out. Obviously, that's not the case, but he's been doing unbelievable with that. Guys just know their roles and they step up when they get in there, and that's all you can ask for."
Santiago entered the day 7-for-24 off Yankees starter CC Sabathia in his career, and Leyland wanted to take advantage of the numbers. Santiago also hit .297 in the No. 2 spot in 26 games during the regular season.
"Santiago had a great night, of course," Leyland said. "He had done decent against CC, obviously hitting [.292] against him. That's why we put him in there. He responded very well with a couple of big hits, no question about it."
Santiago continued what was a hot end to the regular season. From Aug. 14 on, he hit .294 (32-for-109) with four home runs and 19 RBIs, always seeming to come through with the big hit. Through three games, it's been a much different postseason for him than 2006, when he went 1-for-12 (.083) over six games.
In Game 2, Santiago went 0-for-2 with two sacrifice bunts. But on Monday, he was able to swing away and directly help the Tigers on the scoreboard with two RBIs in what was one of the highlights of his career.
"It's one of the best," Santiago said about where the night ranked for him. "I put it on top of the list."
Santiago's first hit came in the third inning after he was unable to lay down a bunt in an attempt to advance runners to second and third. After fouling off two pitches, Santiago singled to left field, scoring Inge for the Tigers' first run of the game. Santiago scored Inge again with a one-out double in the fifth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Tigers the lead.
For Inge, Monday brought the season full circle. After hitting below .200 for most of 2011, he was designated for assignment on July 20 but eventually recalled one month later.
"For me, especially because of this year and what I've gone through personally, this is special to me," Inge said before the game. "I get to ... I don't know, I'm not done yet, so it's one of those things where I'm like, 'You try to knock me off, but I'm not finished yet.'"
Since coming back to Detroit, Inge has been used primarily against left-handed pitching and as a defensive replacement. Against the left-handed Sabathia, Inge came through with a double and single in his first two at-bats.
"That got us going," Leyland said of Inge. "Ingie came up with a big hit there. That really did get us going."
It was a bit of redemption for Inge, who said before the game that he wanted to make sure he took in every moment after everything he's been through this season -- which also included a stint on the disabled list due to an illness that never seemed to go away.
"There's not a much better feeling," Inge said of his performance on Monday night. "I just go out there and play as hard as I can. I love playing baseball, especially here in Detroit, especially in October. I'm very happy to be able to play."
Inge and Santiago are the only remnants of the 2003 Tigers team that lost an American League-record 119 games. Now in their second postseason with the Tigers, their roles have changed, but the goal has remained the same.
"We just try to be resilient," Inge said. "Just make sure what's needed of us, we're there and we play for the team. It's not like we're being selfish in any way. When the team needs a hit, try to get a hit for them."


September 1, 2011

Tigers' Tuesday hero Ramon Santiago vows revenge for pie

TOM GAGE/ The Detroit News
Detroit— Has a player ever been known to put a shaving-cream pie in his own face?
In celebration of his 40th save, Jose Valverde is enough of a prankster to consider it.
"Maybe I'll do that tomorrow," he said.
In the meantime, Ramon Santiago missed his chance to get even.
It was into Santiago's smiling face, after a walk-off home run Tuesday, that Valverde shoved shaving cream.
Saying later that "Jose is big, but he's quick," Santiago never saw it coming.
With a scoreless ninth Wednesday, Valverde became the second Tigers closer to save 40 games in a season. Todd Jones, with 42 in 2000, is No. 1.
But for how long?
Maybe that's what Santiago is waiting for. He's not so big, but he can be quick, too.
"I'll get him," Santiago vowed with a smile after the game. "You watch. I'll get him."

Around the horn
Santiago gave himself (and his team) an early 32nd birthday present Tuesday with his walk-off home run in the 10th.
For his birthday breakfast Wednesday, though, Santiago's mother cooked him his favorite meal: plantains and yucca with cheese.

Detroit Tigers Links: Starting at second base, Ramon Santiago

P PhotoRamon Santiago appears to have become the Detroit Tigers starting second baseman,
providing the best combination of defense and offense.

• Without making any sort of formal announcement, it appears that the Tigers have settled on Ramon Santiago as the regular second baseman. He's started six of Detroit's last eight games at the position.
Yes, that's surely an acknowledgement that defense is important. But Santiago has also been hitting. In those six games, he's batted 7-for-21. (Monday's 0-for-4 hurts those numbers a bit.) Will Jim Leyland stick with him for the last six weeks of the season

Ramon Santiago Supplies Power for Tigers
August 17. 2011
Tigers: Notebook
Lynn Henning/ The Detroit News
It was mentioned to Ramon Santiago after Tuesday night's game that if he didn't knock off this extra-base stuff he might end up as the Tigers cleanup hitter.
Santiago, as is his style, laughed. And then he turned serious.
He understands his role is part time, that every at-bat must count as much as every ground ball hit his way. On an evening when the Tigers rolled up 15 hits in a 7-1 thumping of the Twins at Comerica Park, Santiago had two of the Tigers' three extra-base hits — a long home run to left-center in the sixth, and a double in the seventh.
"I just got a couple of pitches in the strike zone," said Santiago, who started at second base Tuesday and who will start again at second tonight when the Tigers and Twins wrap up their three-game series. "I was just trying to put a good swing on it."
The Tigers' only other extra-base hit Tuesday was a double by Brennan Boesch, who was playing in his first game since spraining his thumb last week.
The Tigers otherwise peppered the Twins with singles Tuesday. Austin Jackson, Delmon Young, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, and Jhonny Peralta each had a pair.

April 4, 2011


Why doesn’t Jim Leyland play Tigers IF Ramon Santiago more? TOM GAGE The Detroit News
Baltimore -- Why don't the Tigers play Ramon Santiago more often?
What holds him back?
He contributes whenever he plays, as he did at the plate and with the glove in Sunday's 10-7 victory over the Yankees, but on Monday he was back on the bench.
One of the reasons, of course, is Santiago's value as a utility player. Few teams have a player as reliably handy as he is.
"I'm not sure people realize what a good utility player Santiago is," manager Jim Leyland said. "I feel totally confident when he plays. I don't say 'Well, I better get Santiago in a game.'
"I feel good when I put him in there."

Report: Philadephia Phillies possibly interested in Tigers' Ramon Santiago
in response to Chase Utley's injury

Thursday, March 10, 2011, 12:40 PM
James Schmehl | MLive.com

It is possible CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler was simply drawing names out of a hat, but the former Booth Newspaper reporter suggested Tigers utility infielder Ramon Santiago as a possible trade candidate for Philadelphia.

The Phillies are reportedly seeking a replacement at second base with five-time All-Star Chase Utley sidelined indefinitely. Utley hasn’t played in a game this spring due to persistent pain in his right knee and could miss a significant chunk of time.

His potential absence reportedly has his club scouting substitutes – and Knobler tweeted Wednesday that Santiago is a possible fill-in.

“Sounds like Phils may look to get another utility man rather than full-time replacement for Utley,” Knobler tweeted. “Tigers' Santiago could be a possibility.”

Phillies scout Charley Kerfeld has also been scouting Michael Young, Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday. The Phillies hadn't called the Rangers as of Wednesday morning.

Santiago has gradually seen his at-bats increase the past three years, but is expected to resume his role as a reserve infielder for the Tigers this season. He hit .263 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 320 at-bats last season.

Santiago, 31, is expected to earn a spot on the Tigers’ 25-man roster, but could see his fill-in starts at second base and shortstop decrease with Danny Worth, Scott Sizemore, Will Rhymes and Carlos Guillen all seeking additional playing time.

Utley is battling patellar tendinitis -- the same condition Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge suffered in both knees throughout the 2009 season. Inge played through the pain for a full season, before having surgery that fall. He had described the pain as "excruciating” and said his knees were constantly sore.

Phillies manager Charlie Manual reportedly reached out to Inge prior to the Phillies’ game against Detroit Wednesday and asked the 33-year-old to reach out to Utley.

Inge told CBS that he was planning to call Utley to talk to him directly about it and said he likely has two options: “Get it taken care of and miss the season, or really, really suck it up."

Of course, it’s entirely possible Utley’s condition doesn’t compare to Inge’s injury. Inge battled tendinitis in both knees and Utley is only experiencing pain in his right. Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand also said Inge’s injury affected the “middle portion of the three-part patella tendon” with nearly 75 percent of that portion is injured.

It has not yet been determined the extent of Utley’s injury as the club is continuing to gather opinions from various specialists. The Phillies are seeking additional options for Utley, though general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he doesn’t think Utley will miss the entire 2011 season.

“I don’t think that that’s an option, no,” Amaro Jr. told The Philadelphia Daily News.

Team physician Michael Cicotti told the New York Daily News that the team would continue to explore "non-operative" measures and said surgery remains a last resort.

Dance contest
Tigers, from left, Ramon Santiago, Jose Valverde and Audy Ciriaco gets some dance tips before their dance contest at the Center of Music and Performing Arts.
JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press

Watch Video of the Dance Contest

Jose Valverde tops Ramon Santiago at Dance Contest

Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press Sports Writer
Jan. 21st, 2011

They came. They saw. They danced.
When it was over, Tigers Jose Valverde, Ramon Santiago and Audy Ciriaco and announcer Rod Allen awaited results of their competition Thursday night in this southwest Detroit version of "Dancing with the Stars."
And the winner was?
"It's a tie!" someone shouted from the back of a packed room at the Center of Music and Performing Arts.
A tie? In baseball?
COMPÁS executive director Ismael Duran wouldn't have it. So, after a dance-off, Valverde was declared the winner based on the crowd's rousing applause as the Tigers took part in a winter caravan stop.
Santiago appeared to be the most polished dancer, but Valverde made up for technical deficiencies with his smile and spirit as he twirled partner Antia Dai-Patton, 28, of Pontiac.
Valverde even got a warning from the umpire. A few club-like gyrations drew warnings of "cuidado! cuidado!" (careful! careful!) from instructor Guadalupe Martinez.
Although Valverde won, Santiago refused to accept that the Tigers closer was the better dancer. Santiago said Valverde's secret weapon -- the prancing paunch on his 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame -- was the key.
"Valverde, when he got on stage everybody went crazy," Santiago said. "When he moved his belly, it was a typical Valverde dance, so it's why he win."
Valverde just laughed off Santiago's comments, and he didn't hesitate when he was asked who the best dancer was among the Tigers.
"Me," he said. "Oh, 100%, you what I mean? You been watching what I do over there? The dance and my belly and everything?"
The Tigers started off watching a short recital of four young girls who performed Mexican folklore dances in traditional white dresses. The guests of honor then received a demonstration and a few tips from Martinez and his partner, Nora Rodriguez, before the competition.
"I was pretty surprised that they were switching partners and they caught on pretty fast," Martinez said. "It seemed like they knew what they were doing, so I didn't have do too much teaching. But it was a great experience."


Ramón Santiago to Begin Playing for Escogido the Second Week of December

Shortstop (in Spanish: “Torpedero”) Ramón Santiago will report to his new team, the Escogido Leones at the beginning of the next week, reported Moses Alou, general manager of the Leones. "We talked with Santiago and he said that in the first days of the coming week, he will join the team", declared Alou. “Ramon indicated to us that he would prefer to return to his original Dominican winter league team also emphasizing that it would be more convenient for he and his family since they reside in Santo Domingo.” (Ramon had played the past two winter league seasons with the Cibao Gigantes, whose stadium is a two hour plus drive each way from his home.)

Santiago was acquired in a trade last Thursday between Escogido and the Cibao Gigantes. Escogido gave up Audy Ciriaco and Román Colon to obtain Santiago.
From the very outset of the transaction, Alou expressed that he was felt very satisfied by the acquisition of the veteran infielder.
"We feel a great satisfaction with the arrival to our team of a player with the caliber of Ramón Santiago, who comes to round out our infield, fortifying our defense up the middle”, declared Moses. Santiago returns to the Leones, after two seasons with the Cibao Gigantes. He debuted in the Dominican Winter League with Escogido in the 2004-04 campaign and was traded to Cibao prior to the season-end Dominican Winter League tournament 2008-09. His career batting average in Dominican play is .280 in 93 games and 275 at bats, through 7 seasons. In the 2010 Caribbean World Series, hosted by Venezuela on the Island Margarita, Santiago was one of the key players that led to Escogido becoming the Caribbean World Champions. (Ramon was selected at large to play with Escogido in the CWS after the Gigantes lost to the Leones in the Dominican League championship.)
Santiago became a major attraction in the Caribbean World Series, finishing the series with average of. 322, going 19 for 59, chalking up 5 doubles, 2 triples and a home run. In the U.S. Major Leagues, Santiago plays for the Tigers of Detroit and in 2010 batted .263 in 320 at bats, while was played 85 games at Shortstop and 25 at Second Base. Santiago has 9 years in the U.S. Major Leagues, two of them with Seattle and the remainder with Detroit.

Ramón Santiago se reportará al Escogido a inicios de semana
Autor: Mario E. Guerrero

7:59 PM -
El torpedero Ramón Santiago se reportará a su nuevo equipo, los Leones del Escogido, a principios de la próxima semana, informó Moisés Alou, gerente general del conjunto rojo.
“Nos comunicamos con Santiago y dijo que en los primeros días de la semana entrante, se unirá al equipo”, declaró Alou.
Reveló que “Ramón nos expresó su complacencia por retornar a su club original en la pelota dominicana, además de destacar que estará más cómodo, porque reside en la capital”.
Escogido adquirió el pasado jueves a Santiago, en un negocio con los Gigantes del Cibao, que como compensación recibieron al jugador del cuadro Audy Ciriaco y al lanzador Román Colón.
Al momento de realizar el negocio, Alou manifestó sentirse muy satisfecho por la adquisición del veterano infielder.
“Sentimos una gran satisfacción con la llegada al equipo de un jugador de la valía de Ramón Santiago, quien viene a redondear nuestro cuadro interior y a fortalecer nuestra defensa en el cuadro interior”, declaró Moisés.
Santiago regresa a los Leones, luego de dos temporadas con los Gigantes del Cibao. El debutó en la liga dominicana con el Escogido en la campaña 2003-04 y fue transferido al conjunto nordestano previo al torneo 2008-09.
Su promedio de bateo en el circuito criollo es de .280 en 93 juegos y 275 turnos, a través de 7 campañas.
En la Serie del Caribe de este año, celebrada en Isla Margarita, Santiago reforzó a los Leones y fue una pieza clave en el triunfo del conjunto escarlata.
En la pasada estación registró su mejor actuación en la pelota local, al terminar con average de .322, fruto de 19 hits en 59 turnos. Entre sus hits se contaron 5 dobles, 2 triples y un jonrón, remolcó 5 carreras y anotó 8.
En las Grandes Ligas, juega para los Tigres de Detroit y en 2010 bateó para average de .263 en 320 turnos, mientras se desempañaba en 85 partidos como torpedero y 25 como intermedista.
Santiago tiene 9 años en las Ligas Mayores, dos de ellos con Seattle y el resto con Detroit.

Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago prospers despite decreased role
Published: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 9:10 PM     Updated: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Steve Kornacki

Ramon Santiago has just 19 starts in the past two months for the Detroit Tigers.

-- Detroit Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago's playing time has dropped significantly since Jhonny Peralta was obtained two months ago and became the primary shortstop.

Santiago began the season sharing that position with Adam Everett before Everett was released.

Santiago also very capable at second base, but rookie Will Rhymes moved right in when given the opportunity to replace the injured Carlos Guillen. And now, Scott Sizemore has joined Rhymes in holding down that position.

"I understand the situation," Santiago said. "I was playing more. But now, I have to stay sharp and not get down. I have to stay focused to do what I can do when I get the chance."

Santiago has just 19 starts in the past two months but has made the most of the playing time he gets. His three-run homer Sunday sparked a win against the Minnesota Twins.

Several teammates over the years have gone to Santiago for advice on being a part-time or platoon player, and he has acquired the reputation as a consummate professional.

What's his secret?

"I just come in every day and, in my mind, go at business like I am starting," Santiago said. "My wife helps me a lot with support. She's real positive, and I take that from her. I make the most of whatever I am given."

Santiago is batting .268 with 38 runs, nine doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs in 314 at-bats. He hasn't had more at-bats in a season since 2003, but that's the result of playing so much in the first half of the season.

Santiago Homer Sparks Tigers To Win Over Twins In Home Finale

John Raffel – AHN Sports Correspondent September 26th, 2010

Detroit, MI, United States (AHN)

He’s not feared much as a home run hitter.

But Detroit shortstop Ramon Santiago picked a fine time to belt his third homer of the season.
Home runs by Santiago and first baseman Miguel Cabrera provided all the firepower the Detroit Tigers needed Sunday for a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.

Santiago belted a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning off Minnesota’s Brian Duensing to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead over the Twins.

It was Santiago’s third home run of the season.

“It felt great,” he said. “We had a good crowd here, last game at home. It was a slider that was right there. I just tried to be aggressive. Finally I got a good pitch and I hit it out.”

The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth when Minnesota’s Delmon Young belted his 19th home run of the season. It was Young’s 14th home run on the road this year.

Cabrera padded Detroit’s lead in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run homer and his 38th roundtripper of the season.

Winning pitcher Rick Porcello, 10-11, allowed one run on four hits, walking one and striking out five. Jose Valverde pitched the final inning for Detroit.

Porcello allowed four hits in eight innings of work striking out five and walking one. He has won five straight games.
“I have to focus on doing my job,” Porcello said. “I’ve had an up-and-down season this year.”
Duensing, 10-3, took the loss.

It was the final home game of the season for the Tigers, 79-75. They have won 52 games at Comerica, a season record.

“We’ve played really good here at home and set a record,” Santiago said. “Hopefully we’ll carry that into next season and will come focused and try to make it.”

Detroit also completed a three-game sweep over the Twins.

“I really wanted to win this last game,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. “It’s hard to sweep that team. Fortunately, we got it done.”

“They’re trying to win second place in our division,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and that means a lot to them.”

Minnesota, 92-63 has already clinched the American League Central Division title.
Gardenhire, who was hit in the right ear by a ball thrown by Alexi Casilla during pregame drills Saturday, said in a pregame interview that he was OK after undergoing extensive tests.

The gritty skipper managed Sunday’s game.

“I didn’t even know where it came from to tell you the truth until after the fact,” Gardenhire said.


August 10, 2010


Ramon Santiago used as designated hitter TOM GAGE The Detroit News
Detroit -- He won't talk about his lineup, but often he doesn't have to -- because his lineup does the talking instead.
And what Jim Leyland's starting lineup for Monday night's game said was "this is a first."
Ramon Santiago batted second and was the Tigers' designated hitter in the Tigers' 6-3 loss. He went 1-for-4.
Batting second isn't anything new for Santiago. It's where he's started his second highest amount of games (65) as a major-leaguer -- but nowhere near to the 262 he has started batting ninth.
However, he'd never started a major league game as a designated hitter -- before Monday night. In fact, the only time he'd ever been used as a DH in a major league game was on July 24 as a replacement for the injured Magglio Ordonez.
Why did it happen this time?
Because left-hander David Price was on the mound for Tampa Bay and Leyland wanted to stock his lineup with right-handed hitters.
"It was a tough chore for Johnny (Damon)," said Leyland, "and right now it's a tough chore for (Brennan) Boesch, so that's the lineup. I don't discuss the lineup."
Santiago had DH'ed some in the minors and said he would try to treat the game like any other. But it wasn't like any other.
In fact, it was like none other.

Tigers' Carlos Guillen, Ramon Santiago stress importance of Latin players to learn English
Published: Tuesday, August 03, 2010, 7:20 PM    
Steve Kornacki

Carlos Guillen says the English classes Latin players receive don't really work.
DETROIT -- Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen got plenty of national attention last week for pointing out that Asian players have interpreters but Latin players do not.

"It’s not easy for us to come here and survive,” Guillen, a Venezuelan, said Tuesday.

He clarified that his remarks should not be seen as a mandate for Major League Baseball to provide Latin interpreters, and said he wasn’t knocking Japanese players he has managed for having them.

"I’m just protecting my player,” Guillen said of Cuban rookie Dyan Viciedo. “I feel proud of him because it’s hard.”

Guillen noted that Cuban players have it hardest because they cannot return to their homeland after defecting to the United States. Viciedo, 21, signed with Chicago less than two years ago and speaks limited English.

Tigers second baseman Carlos Guillen, also a Venezuelan, said that the language classes Detroit and other organizations have for recently signed Latin players aren’t effective.

“I don’t think they work,” he said. “You don’t have classes for Japanese. When I was in Houston (after signing), it was mandatory. But I still don’t feel comfortable with the language.”

Carlos Guillen said it would help to have one Spanish interpreter per team.

“How do you explain the way you feel?” he asked. “It’s hard for you guys to understand what we are saying. And the communication is the key to everything.”

On at least two occasions last season, Tigers closer Fernando Rodney asked to have infielder Ramon Santiago serve as his interpreter.

“I worked on it because when I was in the minors the English class the Tigers had was a good program,” Santiago said. “Some guys don’t take it seriously, and blow it off. I took it seriously and it helped me understand the fundamentals I was being taught and what the coaches were saying. It’s important.”

Santiago said he was joined by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera and former outfielder Wilkin Ramirez in addressing the club’s Latin minor leaguers at spring training.

“We wanted to tell them how important it was to learn English,” Santiago said. “We had a class that taught us how to deal with the media that really helped, too.”

Stats Don’t Prove Ramon Santiago Hits Better in a Limited Role
Author: Matt Snyder

It’s the line we’ve been handed for several years now by Jim Leyland and others: Ramon Santiago is simply not a major league starter. He does well in limited playing time, but if you start him too much he’ll likely wear down and his production will drop sharply.

We even had the discussion a few days ago on this very blog after John
expressed disappointment to see Ramon on the bench and Danny Worth starting in his place. Even with Adam Everett gone and a rookie replacement, it seems that Jim is sticking to the notion that Ramon is not fit to play every day.
But is there any truth to this idea? Does he really hit better when he’s able to rest in between games?
Over the last three seasons in Detroit Ramon has garnered 615 plate appearance and hit for .329 wOBA (below average, but not bad considering he plays defense at a high level). Breaking it down year-by-year, he hit .388 in 2008, .304 in 2009, and is hitting .320 this season (again, wOBA).
In order to find out if he’s better with rest I took the game logs from those three years and eliminated games in which he had played the previous day. In 2008 his rested wOBA was .351, in 2009 it was .289, and this season it’s .254. They all average out to a three-year rested wOBA of .297. Each rested number is decidedly lower than its counterpart.

But maybe limited playing time encompasses more playing than one game on a day of rest. What if we expanded the numbers to include back-to-back games while eliminating games in which he’s played the previous two days? Using this expanded data set, we come up with wOBA numbers of .397 in 2008, .301 in 2009, .319 this season, and a three year average of .329. Here we find our first number of somewhat limited time that is better than his overall totals. Ramon was able to hit nine wOBA points higher in 2008 when playing in no more than two games in a row than his season average.
Unfortunately we still don’t see a trend of better-than-average production in limited playing time situations. His 2009 and 2010 numbers are slightly lower than his overall numbers for those years, and his three-year average from this data set is identical to the overall three-year number. [...]

He’s obviously not hitting better in a limited role in a game-by-game sense, but what about big picture? Does he wear down over the course of the season? If so, we would expect him to hit worse as the months progress. His numbers do, in fact, reflect this trend. His monthly career wOBA numbers are as follows:

Other than a surprising resurgence in September and October, he is indeed trending downward later in the year. The problem here, though, is sample size. Because Ramon has only had one season in his career in which he’s shouldered the full-time starter’s load of games (2003), he’s not yet accrued even 350 plate appearances in any of the above month groups. 350 may seem like a large number, but wOBA can randomly fluctuate with a standard deviation of .025 at this plate appearance total. If we take this into account, we find that all of his monthly averages are within one standard deviation of his career total. Unfortunately, this means the downward trend has little significance; it can be explained due to randomness just as easily as the wearing down effect.
His monthly numbers from his only full-time year, 2003, also dispel the idea of a month-by-month decline. That year, he hit for the same wOBA in July as he did in May (above his season average), he hit poorly in August, but then had his best month in September. If evidence existed to support this type of decline, it would surely show up in 2003.
It still isn’t impossible that his production would see a decline in a starter’s role, but we don’t have any solid statistical evidence that this is actually happening. Until we have a large enough sample size to prove the opposite, I’m forced to conclude that his true hitting skill is not significantly changing with his playing time.

Jose Lima draws a laugh from teammate Shane Halter at the Tigers' spring training camp in 2002. "He was one of the greatest teammates I ever had," Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago said Sunday. (PHOTOS BY ERIC SEALS/DETROIT FREE PRESS)

Posted: May 24, 2010

Baseball stunned by death
of Jose Lima at 37


LOS ANGELES -- Jose Lima lived over the top on
and off the baseball field. The free-spirited
former Tigers pitcher could deliver a song as well
as a fastball, leaving a trail of fun and laughter
known as "Lima Time" wherever he went.

The All-Star right-hander who spent 13 years in
the major leagues with five teams -- including
two stints with the Tigers -- died Sunday. He
was 37.

Authorities said paramedics found Lima in full
cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena early
Sunday, and he was taken to a hospital where he
was pronounced dead. Pasadena police said the
specific cause of death was unknown, and the
Los Angeles County coroner will perform an

Lima pitched for Detroit in 1994-96 and 2001-

"He was like a father to me when I came to the
Tigers," said Detroit infielder Ramon Santiago,
whose first season with the Tigers was Lima's
last. "He bought me five suits. He gave me
advice. He was one of the greatest teammates I
ever had. ...

"I just saw him on the video board the other
night (at Dodger Stadium, Friday night). They
were giving him an ovation."

Santiago draws bases-loaded walk in 12th to propel Tigers past Red Sox
Associated Press Saturday, May 15th, 2010
DETROIT -- Ramon Santiago was getting a standing ovation from the crowd after clinching a comeback victory for the Detroit Tigers, and he didn't know what to do.

Santiago drew a bases-loaded walk from Ramon Ramirez with two outs in the 12th inning, then started toward the dugout before his teammates reminded him that he had to go touch first base.

"In all of my career, I've never been a part of anything like that, but the guys were all telling me to go," Santiago said. "It's one of those things you learn, I guess."

The Tigers were down 6-1 after five innings and 6-4 going into the bottom of the eighth. Still, they won for the sixth time this season when trailing after six.

"It's a great win," manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously, it didn't look good early, because we put ourselves behind the 8-ball, but we hung in there and got ourselves a nice, exciting win."

After homering in the eighth,
Magglio Ordonez opened the 12th with a single off Manny Delcarmen (1-2) and went to third on a one-out single by Brennan Boesch off Scott Schoeneweis -- his fourth hit of the game.

Ramirez came in to face
Brandon Inge and walked him, loading the bases. Alex Avila pinch hit for Gerald Laird and struck out, but Santiago walked on four pitches.

Jose Valverde (1-1) got the victory with an inning of scoreless relief.

Ordonez made it a one-run game with a long homer to left off
Hideki Okajima to lead off the eighth. Miguel Cabrera followed with a walk, Boesch singled and Inge tied the game with a double.

"It's always great to get a win like that, but especially against a very competitive team like Boston," Inge said. "Coming back against them is a very good sign."

The Red Sox had runners in scoring position in both the 10th and 11th, but
Joel Zumaya got out of both jams.

"There's no way we should have lost that game," said
Kevin Youkilis, who finished with a career-high five walks. "The good thing is that we've got another game in 13 hours, so we won't have time to dwell on it."

Neither starter got a decision.
Jon Lester allowed four runs on four hits and four walks in seven innings. He struck out 10.

Detroit's late rally saved
Dontrelle Willis from a loss after he gave up four runs, four hits and seven walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Willis struck out two of Boston's first four hitters in the third, but walked the other two.
David Ortiz broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single, and after Willis walked Adrian Beltre to load the bases, J.D. Drew made it 3-0 with a ground-rule double to center.

Scott Sizemore started the Detroit third with a walk and scored on Adam Everett's double -- the only hit off Lester in the first five innings -- but Willis continued to struggle.

He left with two on in the fourth and Ortiz increased Boston's lead to four runs with a two-out RBI single off
Eddie Bonine.

Still, given Willis' performance, the Red Sox knew they should have been ahead by even more.

"At the time, we didn't think that was going to cost us the game, but we definitely missed some chances in the early innings," manager Terry Francona said. "It turned out to hurt us more than we thought."

Bill Hall made it 6-1 in the fifth with his second homer in two days, a two-run shot off Bonine.

Boesch's two-run triple pulled the Tigers to 6-3 in the sixth. Inge made it a two-run game with a sacrifice fly.

"I had really gotten into a rhythm, but that sixth inning hurt me," Lester said. "I only really made one bad pitch, but Boesch hit it hard."

Game notes
Detroit LF
Casper Wells made his major league debut, batting second. Wells, called up Friday, was scheduled to return to Triple-A Toledo on Sunday to make room for RHP Armando Galarraga, but those plans changed after the game. Instead, the Tigers promoted Galarraga and infielder Danny Worth, and demoted Sizemore and RHP Max Scherzer. ... Beltre is 8 for 10 in his career against Willis. ... Tigers reliever Zach Miner sustained a partial tear of an elbow ligament while pitching in extended spring training and is expected to miss the rest of the season. ... The game was delayed for a few moments in the top of the ninth after plate umpire Ron Kulpa was hit in the mask by Jeremy Hermida's foul ball on a 100 mph fastball from Zumaya. Kulpa stayed in the game after being examined by Tigers trainer Kevin Rand.

05/15/10 1:04 AM ET
Santiago appears OK after hit-by-pitch
Tigers infielder struck on left forearm by 98-mph fastball
By Jason Beck and Alex DiFilippo / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The Tigers might well have dodged a major injury Friday night when Ramon Santiago took a 98-mph fastball from Daniel Bard off his left forearm in the seventh inning.
Santiago took his base, but he received a lengthy visit from head athletic trainer Kevin Rand before staying in the game. In the end, manager Jim Leyland said, some padding around Santiago's elbow might have saved him from far worse.
"He got smoked," Leyland said. "But fortunately he had some padding there. At least right now, it's not as bad as I thought it could've been. I mean, that's a potential broken bone, but fortunately, I don't think that's the case."
Santiago reached base twice Friday, including a second-inning walk, but went hitless to fall to 0-for-7 on the homestand. He has the odd split of a .179 average (5-for-28) at home this season compared to .326 (14-for-43) on the road, though he has played nearly twice as many games away from Comerica Park this season.

04/25/10 1:08 AM ET
Santiago's at-bat impresses manager
By Todd Wills / Special to MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Ramon Santiago's 13-pitch at-bat in the ninth inning Friday night against Texas closer Neftali Feliz, one of the hardest throwers in the league, drew rave reviews from Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

"Very impressive," the manager said.

Leyland wouldn't go so far as to say Santiago's at-bat set the stage for the Tigers' two-run rally to tie the game at 4 in the top of the ninth -- the next three batters got hits. "I don't think it had anything to do with it," Leyland said.

But Leyland did commend Santiago for his effort. Feliz was throwing around 100 mph the entire at-bat. And Santiago did take a changeup on the 10th pitch, something he said was difficult to do.

Leyland did say Santiago's at-bat might have impacted Feliz. "He probably did take a little bit out of him," Leyland said.

Everett exits with mild hamstring injury
Tigers shortstop Adam Everett left Saturday's game in the third inning with a mild right hamstring injury. He is day-to-day.
Everett singled to start the third inning and later came around to score, but did not return to the field. He was the Tigers' Opening Day starter at shortstop and has played in 13 games.
Manager Jim Leyland said Everett actually tweaked his hamstring going into the hole to make a play on an infield single by Vladimir Guerrero in the second inning.
"It's slight," Leyland said. "We think he'll be OK." Everett will not start Sunday.
Ramon Santiago will play in his place.

Posted: April 20, 2010

Tigers SS Ramon Santiago, Angels P Fernando Rodney talk about facing each other


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- They said they first played on the same baseball team as kids in the Dominican Republic.

Now, about 20 years later, the moment almost arrived Monday night. Fernando Rodney pitching to Ramon Santiago.Santiago was on deck to hit for Adam Everett
with two out in the ninth. Santiago never got up. Rodney struck out Scott Sizemore to end the Angels’ 2-0 win.

"The only time we faced each other was in the Instructional League," Santiago said.

Those games, which don't count, came during the 10 seasons Rodney and Santiago spent together in the Tigers' organization.

"We played together in every single league," said Santiago, 30. "Rookie ball, A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A and the big leagues."

Rodney said: "We played a long time together."

Their tenure together ended when Rodney signed as a free agent with the Angels last December for two years at $11 million total.

Both said Monday they'd keep a straight face if they face each other. Monday night’s game was the first of seven between the teams in the next
two weeks.

Rodney returns to Comerica Park the weekend after this one, about a week ahead of Curtis Granderson.

Guess who the first batter was Rodney faced in his first save opportunity for the Angels. It was Granderson. Rodney got him to foul out.

Rodney laughed at the fantastic nature of that. "I know him, and he knows me," Rodney said. "I threw the best I had to him."

Rodney stepped into the closer's role last week when Brian Fuentes went on the disabled list. In all four of his Angels save chances, he’s retired
all three hitters he faced. Monday night, he got Brandon Inge to ground out,
Alex Avila to fly out and Sizemore to whiff on a check-swing.

That might not sound like the high-wire Rodney that Tigers fans experienced last season. But Rodney did have five straight outings last May in which he didn’t allow a runner.

As the Angels' media notes proclaimed, Rodney has succeeded in 44 of his last 45 save opportunities since the start of last season. For all those runners, he let one official save opportunity get away last season. Largely because of him, the Tigers never lost a game last season they led in the ninth inning.

Rodney looked totally at home in the Angels' clubhouse Monday. He held court in Spanish for several of his teammates. He didn't look like someone who, at 33, has just changed organizations for the first time in his pro career.

Later, back at his locker, he said, "I feel at home. This is a great team, and there are good people here."

He said that he didn’t know what it would be like to face the Tigers.

Afterward, he said, “This is baseball. I tried to do my job, and I think I did it. Everything is working well for me the last four games (as the closer). I’m throwing the first pitch for a strike. That’s important.”

He said he didn’t see Santiago on deck.“I was focused on the last hitter (Sizemore),” Rodney said. So although Rodney has now faced the Tigers, he
still hasn’t faced Santiago.

"He'll try to get me out, and I'll try to get a base hit," Santiago said. "I'm a professional, and he's a professional. You have to try to control your emotions."

Everett, Santiago to share shortstop
Leyland does not want to wear either down

By Jason Beck / MLB.com
04/04/10 6:33 PM ET

KANSAS CITY -- While Adam Everett will get the Opening Day start at shortstop, Ramon Santiago is going to earn his share of playing time there again, too, starting with the second game of the season. Manager Jim Leyland said he plans to start Santiago at shortstop Wednesday against Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar.

Leyland made no secret that his shortstop role is going to be a mix.

"There are some plays that you need to play them just right," Leyland said, "and if you start asking for too much, they're just not the same player. If you start playing them too much, there are certain guys that have a tendency to come up with injuries, legitimate injuries. That's just the way it happens.

"I think you have to make sure you don't run Santi down. I think you have to make sure you don't run Everett down. They're two guys I think you've got to watch. I think we did a decent job last year of doing it."

Santiago is likely to get more playing time overall this year, though, because of second base. Leyland plans to keep an eye on rookie Scott Sizemore to make sure he doesn't wear down, and Santiago is likely to get some starts at second in that situation.

"He's a very valuable part of our team," Leyland said of Santiago.
"I don't really call him a utility player. He's a very good player for us.”

March 9, 2010


Tigers closer Jose Valverde is no lightweight LYNN HENNING The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. --Something doesn't click after studying Jose Valverde's first two weeks in Tigers camp.
He's listed as 6-foot-4, 280 pounds. The 6-4 digits add up, but the 280?
Valverde shook his head and smiled.
"Two-sixty-eight this year," the Tigers' new closer said, sitting at a table in the team's Tigertown clubhouse. "Last year, 285."
Stunningly, he was 15 pounds from hitting the not-so-magical 300-pound mark, which works a lot better on an NFL field than on a baseball diamond.
"I'm not the same guy I was a couple years ago," Valverde explained, meaning that his 17-pound drop was common sense for a pitcher entering big league twilight (he turns 32 later this month).
"But I feel like 20, 21," he said, and anyone observing Valverde since he arrived in Lakeland would agree he has a frat-house flair for fun.
He was busy Sunday morning,
in cahoots with Ramon Santiago and Miguel Cabrera, pulling a prank on the clubhouse's resident humorist, Dontrelle Willis.
Willis had stepped away from his locker for a few moments and paid the price. Valverde sneaked into the snack room and came tip-toeing back with an armload of bananas that he stuffed along with pop cans onto the top shelf of Willis' locker.
It resulted -- after Willis came upon the mess -- in five minutes of giggles, feigned threats of retaliation from Willis, and yet
another bit of evidence that this is one of the more cohesive Tigers clubhouses in memory, which is something manager Jim Leyland has been saying all spring.
"You have to figure out how to enjoy the day," said Valverde, insisting that baseball is such a stressful business that some horseplay is necessary.
Atmosphere is what he has come to appreciate about the Tigers since he joined them after signing a two-year deal (plus an option season) Jan. 25 to succeed former closer Fernando Rodney.
"Everybody's together," Valverde said. "Everybody's laughing, and yet they're in the game."

03/07/10 5:56 PM EST
Santiago's versatility key for Tigers
Veteran's offseason work should lead to better endurance
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ramon Santiago might never be an everyday player for the Tigers. The opportunities haven't abounded. But if he's going to be a situational guy, it's a pretty good situation for him.

He's just coming off of a timeshare at shortstop for the Tigers, potentially the offensive part of the mix at short with Adam Everett. He's insurance at second base with rookie Scott Sizemore. And he's shaping up to be the only switch-hitter off the bench.

All things considered, he's a vital part to the Tigers' fate this season, which is a big reason why he's the one non-regular with a job seemingly set this early in camp. It's also a reason why the Tigers were willing to commit to a two-year contract with him. Yet between winter ball and the Caribbean Series, he probably came to camp as the Tigers position player best prepared to win a job.

"I come ready for any position, short or second," Santiago said. "I worked in the offseason for that. But regardless, I'm happy in whatever role they put me in, and I'm going to try to do my best to help this team win. It's the most important thing for me. Everybody, we get on the same page and try to win ballgames. That's most important."

For someone who could've made a strong play for a starting job at either spot if needed, it's a good attitude to take.

For a brief while, Santiago seemed potentially poised to slot in at either spot. In early November, when Scott Sizemore had just undergone ankle surgery and Everett had just filed for free agency, Santiago was the one sure thing the Tigers had in the middle infield. Moreover, he was starting to heat up in winter ball.

The situation obviously changed, but the Tigers' trust in Santiago did not. Though the Tigers are starting to rack up a good collection of infielders in the system capable of utility work, including Don Kelly and Brent Dlugach, they've made an investment in Santiago.

Santiago, meanwhile, has made a commitment to the Tigers.

"I've always liked this organization," Santiago said. "They gave me an opportunity. It's the organization I came up in, and I've made my career here. I wish I can stay here for life."
Until Sizemore became Detroit's likely starter at second this year, Santiago was actually the last rookie middle infielder to play every day in Detroit. He broke into the Majors as a midseason callup at shortstop in 2002, replacing Shane Halter, then played in 141 games between shortstop and second base on the 119-loss Tigers of '03.

He played just 160 games in the big leagues over the next five years until last season, when a fast start led him into a platoon with Everett for much of the summer. Now he's trying to build off his season, whatever happens from here.

He knows his reputation for strong starts and late-season fades. It has shown in his stats the last couple years, and it has furthered the belief that he wears down when he plays every day. His offseason was meant to help maintain what he starts.

"Sometimes you start good, but you want to finish strong," Santiago said. "I want to be more consistent, be consistent the whole year. Sometimes every player during the year has a tough time because it's a long season, but you have to keep your mind ready and your body ready. I'm going to try to do my best."
Winter ball played into that. He started fast in the Domincan League and maintained that even after the talent level picked up down the stetch and into the playoffs, finishing with a .322 average and .937 OPS for the eventual Dominican champion Gigantes del Cibao.
All the while, he maintained an offseason workout regimen designed to help his quickness. He had specific exercises designed with input from Tigers conditioning coach Javair Gillett, and he changed his diet to focus more on lean meats and protein.
"My goal before Spring Training was to get a little faster," he said. "I want to steal some more bases this year, be more aggressive on the bases, more aggressive first to third. I'm going to try to get the extra base. I've got it in my mind. It's something I want to improve this Spring Training."
Most Dominican champions change their roster into All-Star teams when they shift to the Caribbean World Series and compete against league champions from Mexico, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Gigantes wanted Santiago to stick around, and he obliged. It wasn't in his plans, but he couldn't pass up the opportunity.
Santiago went 6-for-19 in the series and played solid defense, helping Gigantes to the Caribbean title. He went almost directly from there to Florida for Spring Training, playing catch and working out in the short time between stops.
"That's the advantage of the thing," Santiago said. "You come into the games ready. You don't have to practice to get ready. You just have to maintain what you've been doing for a couple months."
Manager Jim Leyland said he plans to rest Santiago a little more than usual this spring to avoid wearing him down before the season eventually starts. And Santiago said he tries to rest up once he gets home from camp most days. But he feels prepared for whatever role he's in.
Nobody knows what role that will take. All he can do is be ready.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ramon Santiago, signing autographs before a home game last June, has never been to Haiti, but feels its pain. (John Grieshop/Getty Images)

The Detroit News

February 27, 2010


Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago feels for earthquake victims TOM GAGE
Lakeland, Fla. -- The television was on in the Tigers' clubhouse on a rainy Saturday morning.
Ramon Santiago watched the coverage of the earthquake in Chile.
"Again?" he asked.
Santiago is from the Dominican Republic, the country that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. He's never been to Haiti, but feels its pain.
On Jan. 12, he also felt what caused its pain.
The day the earthquake hit, destroying much of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti's capital, Santiago was in his eighth-floor apartment in Santo Domingo.
"It shook for 30 seconds," he said. "Three hundred kilometers away, it shook for 30 seconds. We went outside. People were in the streets."
Santiago said "there are Haitian people in our hospitals. They lost everything. A man who works in our building is from Haiti. He lost family members."
It is rare for the cheerful Santiago not to smile. But it can't be said anymore that he's always smiling -- because he wasn't during this discussion.
And he wasn't smiling while, on the television above his locker, the updates continued about the quake in Chile.
But the impact of his initial response lingered.

Ramon Santiago is proud to play for DR

MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela. Infielder for the Gigantes del Cibao, Ramon Santiago, the invitation to his first Caribbean Series represents more than a simple opportunity to present his talent, it is pride.

Ramon Santiago

"This is my first Caribbean Series, and for me is a great honor to be here wearing the uniform of my country," said Santiago, before the first game of the Caribbean Series, held in New Sparta Stadium in this island community. Santiago was instrumental in the success of the Cibao Giants and replaced at shortstop Joaquin Arias, who did not make the trip citing back problems. Santiago, in fact, is one of only two players on the Dominican team with a guaranteed contract in the major leagues next season. The native of Las Matas de Farfan will be starting second baseman or utility of the Detroit Tigers, while the other major leaguer is Cuban Brayan Pena. "I feel better, sure, if we had more players with secured spots on MLB rosters, but there are many scouts watching the game and I think those who seek to be on a MLB roster will have the opportunity to prove their skills," he said. "I take my chance and like I said, I am very happy to be here with the Dominican team," he added. Ramon Santiago summed up his opportunity to play for Republica Dominicana: “I am aware of my role in the Dominican team, so each day I will try to do my best with every pitch. "

December 16, 2009

Tigers sign Ramon Santiago to 2-year deal
The Detroit Tigers today agreed to terms on a two-year, $2.5-million contract with infielder Ramon Santiago, thus avoiding arbitration.
Santiago batted .267 with six doubles, two triples, seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 93 games for the Tigers this past season. He set career highs in homers and RBIs and had the second-most at-bats of his career (265). Manager Jim Leyland said that Santiago's playing time figures to go up next season because he'll start more often in place of rookie second baseman Scott Sizemore than he did in place of veteran Placido Polanco last season.
Santiago also will continue to make starts in place of Adam Everett at short. As a switch-hitter, he provides a left-handed bat in place of the right-handed Everett and the right-handed Sizemore.
Santiago, 30, would have been eligible for free agency after next season. By signing him to a two-year contract, the Tigers have postponed his free-agent eligibility by one season.
In 183 games with the Tigers since the start of 2007, Santiago is hitting .274 with 17 doubles, five triples, 11 home runs and 60 RBIs.
With Santiago agreeing to terms, the Tigers now have 13 players on the 40-man roster under contract for 2010.
Free Press sports writer John Lowe contributed to this report.

12/16/09 5:40 PM EST
Tigers, Santiago agree on two-year deal
Veteran infielder netted career-high seven homers in 2009
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
Ramon Santiago figures to be an important piece of the Tigers' middle-infield equation in 2010, spelling Adam Everett at shortstop and rookie Scott Sizemore at second base.

The Tigers showed how much they value having Santiago in the fold by agreeing with him on a two-year contract, announced on Wednesday. With the deal, the Tigers and Santiago avoid salary arbitration.
The Associated Press reported that the two-year deal is worth $2.5 million.
Santiago appeared in 93 games last season, including 73 combined starts at second and short. He batted .267 (70-for-262) with six doubles, two triples, seven homers and 35 RBIs. The home run and RBI totals were career highs.
In 183 games with the Tigers since the start of the 2007 season, the switch-hitting Santiago has hit .274 with 17 doubles, five triples, 11 homers and 60 RBIs.
It's possible Santiago could see even more time at second in 2010, as Sizemore gets his feet wet in the Major Leagues. The infield prospect is taking over the starting duties at second from Placido Polanco, who departed in free agency and signed with the Phillies.
Santiago would have been eligible for free agency next winter. His contract is the first multiyear deal done by the Tigers since the Miguel Cabrera contract in 2008.
The Tigers now have 13 players from the 40-man roster under contract for 2010.

jueves, noviembre 26, 2009
Ramón Santiago debutará este viernes en Julián Javier

SAN FRANCISCO DE MACORIS.- El estelar campo corto  de grandes ligas Ramón Santiago anuncio su debut para este viernes en el estadio Julián Javier frente a las estrellas Orientales. Santiago resaltó que ha estado entrenando arduamente y lleva varios días integrado a los entrenamientos del conjunto. “Me siento en optimas condiciones física y mental para aporta mi granito de arena  a favor del equipo tengo un gran compromiso con la fanáticada de los Gigantes del Cibao”  enfatizó.

"Tú puedes recordar que el año pasado no pude terminar jugando con los Gigantes por la lesión que sufrí en el primer juego de la serie final  pero para esta ocasión voy a integrarme temprano para de esa manera cumplir con la fanaticada del conjunto”  afirmó. Santiago perteneciente a los Tigres del Detroit en el béisbol de las grandes ligas  bateo en la pasada campaña en el béisbol de los Estados Unidos  para  .282 en 58 partidos, tuvo 124 turnos, 30 carreras anotadas, 35 imparables, 6 dobles, 2 triples 4 cuadrangulares, 18 remolcadas, 22 bases por bolas recibidas, y 17 ponches.

El año pasado en la pelota invernal dominicana Santiago bateó para 297, 12 carreras anotadas, 6 remolcadas, 19 imparables, y 5 dobles.


The stellar shortstop of the major leagues, Ramón Santiago, announced his début for this Friday at Julián Javier Stadium set against the Oriental stars. Santiago has spent several days getting re-familiar with the coaches and integrating back onto the Giants team. “I’ve optimized my mental and physical condition so that I may commit my grain of sand to the granite rock of enthusiasm embodied in the Giants of Cibao.”

"You can recall that last year I could not finish playing with the Giants due to the injury that I suffered in the first play of the final series. However, this season I am going to integrate earlier with the Giants to become part of the team’s winning spirit. Santiago played for the Detroit Tigers in the major leagues this past season.

Last year in Dominican winter ball Santiago batted .297.

Ramon Santiago's stock reaches new level LYNN HENNING
Detroit October 3, 2009
One of Jim Leyland's surprises in spring training before the 2006 season was how rapidly young, or lower-profile, players caught the new manager's eye.
Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya were kid pitchers who pushed for roster spots almost from the day Leyland saw them burning holes in catcher's mitts in the Tigertown bullpen.
He saw an infielder he liked as his backup at shortstop and second base: Ramon Santiago, who had played for the Tigers in 2002 and '03 before being traded to Seattle. He was back with the Tigers after the Mariners released him during the 2005-06 offseason.
Santiago now has played four straight seasons with the Tigers and never has had higher stock or status. Leyland had him in the lineup for the 92nd time Friday as the Tigers got ready to play the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in a game that could've drawn the Tigers closer to a spot in the postseason.
Santiago's playing time has soared this season. He played in 58 games in 2008, 32 in '07 and 43 in '06. Should the playoffs involve Leyland's team, Santiago will have a shot at crowding the 100-game mark -- significant duty when players as solid as Everett and as talented as Placido Polanco are Leyland's up-the-middle infield regulars.
Better with age
Santiago is six weeks past his 30th birthday. He was batting .271 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs as the Tigers got ready for Jake Peavy, a White Sox right-hander, which is why the switch-hitting Santiago was playing ahead of the team's established starter at shortstop, Everett, a right-handed hitter.
"He's very good at second base or shortstop," Leyland said, explaining what he liked about Santiago in March 2006 -- and in October 2009. "And he's a wonderful kid."
What Leyland saw in Santiago that first spring in Florida was a rock-solid defensive player with versatility. Santiago could play with equal command at short or second. He had soft hands and a quick release on relays. He had a plus arm.
And he got to everything hit his way. A reliable backup infielder's great gift is that he comes with an insurance policy. Need to replace your starter in the late innings? You need a fill-in who can suck up ground balls the way your Hoover inhales cracker crumbs.
That was Santiago. It was Santiago two weeks ago, in Minneapolis, when he slipped into the hole at shortstop, backhanded Nick Punto's hot grounder headed to left field, and whipped a snap-throw to Polanco at second to help nail down a huge Sunday victory over the Twins
His hitting has been the surprise this year. Santiago didn't cut it when the Tigers tried to make him a starting shortstop in 2003, when he was only 23. He played 141 games during the Tigers' anguished '03 season, when they finished 43-119. Santiago seemed in good company.
He batted .225. He hit two home runs. He had 29 RBIs.
But after Santiago returned to Detroit, and after Leyland decided to carry him only because his glove was so failsafe, Santiago got busy making changes. Mostly, with his body.
Hard work pays off
He hit the Dominican Republic beach for Marine Corps-style workouts with David Ortiz and other Dominican habitués. He hit the weights, as well, hoping to whack the baseball with more punch.
He also was getting older. And smarter. He was only 26 when Leyland added him to the roster. He had time to yet develop, even if he was only playing semi-regularly, mostly because Leyland has always maintained that Santiago's build makes him vulnerable to wearing down if he plays too frequently. It's then that his bat wilts, at least in Leyland's view.
"You never agree," Santiago said Friday, smiling at the skipper's assessment. "Ask any player that question. Everyone wants to play.
"I'm not gonna lie. But I'm happy with my role. I want to be a Tiger forever."
Forever might be a stretch, but think back to early '06, when a kid the Tigers had traded to the Mariners (for Carlos Guillen) and then re-signed showed up in Florida trying to win a job.
It is almost four years later. And an exceedingly valuable player has done nothing but get better, and more essential.
Underestimate this man at your own risk.
Additional Facts
Don't sell 'em short
The Tigers have gotten solid seasons from their two little-heralded shortstops. Here's how they've done in games they've played shortstop.












Field. percent.






Home runs






Santiago's long journey to big league ball

Tigers infielder grew up on fields of Domincan Republic
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

08/03/09 11:12 PM ET

Monday starts our week-long package of stories looking at Tigers Latin-American players and how they grew up around baseball. The package leads up to the Tigers' annual Fiesta Tigres celebration Saturday at Comerica Park.

DETROIT -- Ramon Santiago can still remember how to roll a sock tightly into a makeshift baseball. That was pretty easy. Then they'd find something to use for bat.
It wasn't much, but where he came from in his native Dominican Republic, it was the start of a ballgame. As it turned out, it was also the start of a career.
Before Santiago had his own fan club, before he earned a share of the Tigers' shortstop job, before he even started playing organized baseball back home, he had the makeshift ball and bat. They'd play around the apartment, in the street, maybe on the field next door.
In the Dominican, of course, baseball is an obsession. And Santiago was all about baseball, eventually outgrowing the sock and stick.
"Sometimes we'd play near our apartment," Santiago said. "If anybody hit it over the building, it was a home run."
If anybody hit it against the building?
"A double, maybe a triple," Santiago said. "You just keep running until they catch the ball."
If anybody broke a window?
"Everybody run," Santiago laughed.
It was on the streets of Las Matas de Farfan, and later on the rocky infield of the city's organized league, where Santiago honed his sure-handed fielding. The town of just over 20,000 people, located in the western mountains near the border with Haiti, isn't the fabled baseball hotbed of other Dominican cities, but has produced a fair number of Major Leaguers, from Juan Encarnacion to Odalis Perez, Roberto Novoa to Victor Santos. Santiago is the one player of the bunch still in the Major Leagues this season.
Santiago spent a good portion of his childhood in the field, but not always baseball. While his mother worked in a pharmacy, his father was involved with farming. One of his favorite pictures as a kid isn't of his baseball exploits, but as a five-year-old on top of a burro, a small donkey.
"Somebody had to hold the burro," Santiago said. "They can be mean sometimes, start throwing you around."
His dad didn't want him doing a lot of work around the farm, only to help out a little bit. He still has a mark from where he cut open his leg once while hauling grain around.
His family wanted him to focus on his studies, and on baseball. Once he started playing organized ball at age nine in the local leagues, he became a mainstay in town as a shortstop.
There was one field in town for the league to use, and it wasn't a particularly good one. He got the bumps and bruises to show for it. But by playing there, he learned the discipline to keep his eye on the ball and be ready for a last-second adjustment.
"That's why when I play in the fields here, it's like paradise," Santiago said. "That field was so hard, you're maybe afraid to lose your teeth. That's how bad it was. When you see the fields here, how they treat it, that's like playing in paradise on the Major League fields."
During the day, after school, he would be watching for bad hops on that field. Once evening came, he would often be home, watching Major League games on television. However, he didn't have a lot of choices.
"Young players, they always have somebody they like, they want to be like him," Santiago said. "When I was watching baseball, the only channels I watched were the Braves [on TBS] and the Cubs [on WGN]. We didn't have many more channels then. We're a little town in the Dominican."
He remembers watching Rafael Belliard as a utility infielder with the Braves, and admiring him for his glove. But one of the biggest influences on his career from those games wasn't even Dominican.
"Chipper [Jones] was why I started switch-hitting," Santiago said. "Chipper, I liked, and he was a switch-hitter. But I only hit right before. So from then, I said I want to hit like him. I tried it one game, hit it good, so I kept hitting like that."
He was around 15 years old when Jones got him to switch-hit. A year later, the Tigers signed him in December of 1995 and sent him to their developmental academy, where he made enough of an impression to crack the Tigers' farm system in 1999.
He barely knew a word of English at the time, but he worked with Tigers instructors and teammates to learn the language, to the point where he's now one of the more fluent Latin-American players on the team. He and teammate Placido Polanco work with young players when they get to Detroit to make the adjustment.
There's another way he wants to give back.
"Maybe when I go back home, I want to try to help fix the field, for my league," Santiago said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tigers' Fernando Rodney, Ramon Santiago treat David Ortiz to hearty meals

June 05, 2009 11:51AM
David Ortiz was already a big man -- weighing in around 235 pounds -- prior to his visit to Detroit. But after Boston's three-game road trip against the Tigers, the veteran slugger might have gained a few pounds, due largely in part to Tigers' Fernando Rodney and Ramon Santiago's gracious hospitality.
Boston Globe, June 5: Ortiz had three containers of food at his locker, all from the Tigers' Fernando Rodney. Ortiz explained that Dominican players take care of each other on the road. He said he got food from Ramon Santiago the day before.

Ramon Santiago: A Hall of Fame Backup in Detroit
May 27, 2009
The end of the 2008 season came along with the end of a contract for starting shortstop Edgar
Renteria. With the Tigers having no intentions of resigning Renteria, the starting job was all but given
to the long-time professional backup, Ramon Santiago...

by Austin Drake (Columnist)

The end of the 2008 season came along with the end of a contract for starting shortstop Edgar
Renteria. With the Tigers having no intentions of resigning Renteria, the starting job was all but given
to the long-time professional backup,
Ramon Santiago.

Santiago grew up in the early 1980s, in the little town of Las Matas de Farfan, Dominican Republic.
As a backup in 2008, Santiago knocked in 18 runners in 124 plate appearances, while posting an
average of .282. His defense has always been there, too, with a career .973 fielding percentage, making
just three errors in 118 total chances.

Santiago had waited for this moment—his seven-year career, five with Detroit, was finally going to pay
off. He would be a starter on a major-league team again.

Then, December 28th rolled around, and Detroit signed free agent Adam Everett to a one-year, $1
million contract. Santiago saw himself slip back into the second slot on the depth chart once again.
Then, the 2009 regular season came knocking.

With Adam Everett a defensive shortstop and the Tigers lacking offensive fire power, manager Jim
Leyland made a move to put Ramon as the starter for a few games, and it sure did pay off.

In a start on April 13th versus the White Sox, Santiago went 3-5 with a home run and three RBI. Later
in the month, Santiago got the nod against his former team, Seattle, and he went 2-3 with a double and
five RBI.

Now into May, Santiago has begun to play, on average, two or three games a week and has his coaches,
teammates, and fans praising that decision. In the month of May, through May 25th, he is hitting a
whopping .441, with six extra-base hits and nine RBI.

Not only has Ramon's bat sizzled so far this season, his leather isn't too bad either. Thus far this season
at second base, Santiago has yet to make and error, and at shortstop has made a mere two.

Coming from a die-hard Tigers fan like myself, this guy may be one of the most important pieces to the
puzzle in Detroit. His mix of speed, defense, and hitting ability off the bench adds another dimension to
the Tigers squad.

Ramon Santiago is a Hall of Fame backup, and a key to Detroit's success.

May 20, 2009

Tigers' Ramon Santiago a driving force Has more RBIs than all of last season BY JOHN LOWE FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Something can be said of Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago that can't be said of many players: As the season approaches the one-fourth mark, he has more RBIs than he had all of last season.
Santiago has 19 RBIs. He finished last season with 18.
A lot of his RBIs this season have come with something beyond a single.
In consecutive innings Sunday against Oakland, Santiago had a run-scoring triple and a three-run homer. He added two singles. According to Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org -- he did something Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker each did only once in their long careers in the Tigers' middle infield: Have a four-hit game that included a triple and a homer.
Santiago played second as he went 4-for-4 on Sunday, while shortstop Adam Everett went 3-for-3. According to research by Brian Britten, the Tigers' director of baseball media relations, Trammell and Whitaker never did that -- i.e., both never had at least three hits in a game in which neither made an out.
Santiago has acknowledged he got stronger with workouts this past off-season. He also might be swinging more often than a year ago. He already has struck out almost as much he did all of last season. But with his production up dramatically, that's not an issue.
Santiago last season: 124 at-bats, 12 extra-base hits (four homers), 18 RBIs.
Santiago this season: 58 at-bats, eight extra-base hits (three homers), 19 RBIs.
On Tuesday night, Santiago started and got his latest extra-base hit, a double down the rightfield line. The club anticipated he would play more this season than last season, in part so Everett would get breaks.
Contact JOHN LOWE: 313-223-4053 or jlowe@freepress.com.

Scott Warheit on WBBL:

Adam Everett, Ramon Santiago emerge as Detroit's 'biggest surprise'

Posted by
James Schmehl | MLive.com May 20, 2009 17:24PM
Categories: Adam Everett, Audio, Ramon Santiago

Ramon Santiago - a career .245 hitter - signed a one-year, $825,000 contract with Detroit as a fill-in utility infielder, who would start in place of everyday starters, here and there.
Adam Everett - a career .248 hitter - signed a one-year, $1 million contract this offseason -- becoming the Tigers' solution to a sloppy infield.
In return, Detroit now sits atop the AL Central and the Santiago-Everett tandem has combined for 35 RBIs in only 143 at-bats at a bargain-basement price.
The Tigers' shortstop duo has combined for 13 more RBIs than Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy, who leads all shortstops with 22 in 131 at-bats -- one of many early season surprises for Detroit, according to Cutoff Man co-author Scott Warheit.
"That to me might be the biggest surprise because that was not a position that they expected to get a lot of run production from, and they've gotten it," Warheit told
WBBL-AM Grand Rapid's Bret Bakita. "When you combine that with how well their starting pitchers have performed, especially lately, you couldn't be asking for much more."
Listen to the entire interview as Warheit discusses Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames, who are both listed on the disabled list, and the near return of Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers' starting rotation.


Leyland Weighing Options at Shortstop
07/22/2008 8:40 PM ET
By Mark Dent / MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Manager Jim Leyland believes Edgar Renteria is getting healthier every day, and has continued to keep him in the lineup.
Renteria suffered a mild hamstring strain on July 9 and sat out for a few games before the All-Star break. In the first two games after the break, he went 3-for-7, but has gone 0-for-8 over the last two games.
Leyland said he wouldn't hesitate to use shortstop Ramon Santiago if he didn't think Renteria was healthy enough.
"I wouldn't not play him unless I thought he wasn't going to get the job done," Leyland said about Renteria. "But there are going to be balls in emergency situations where he's not going to take a chance at the ball at all."

Brandon Inge homers, Ramon Santiago goes 4-for-4 for Toledo
A few updates from the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens' 8-1 victory over Scranton on Monday: Catcher/infielder Brandon Inge (pulled oblique) began his minor league rehabilitation assignment with a 1-for-3 performance as the designated hitter. He hit a three-run home run off right-hander Jeff Karstens in the third inning.

Infielder Ramon Santiago (separated left shoulder) went 4-for-4 in what was almost certainly the final game of his rehabilitation assignment. Detroit plans to activate him before tonight's series opener against Cleveland.
Infielder Michael Hollimon rejoined the Toledo lineup after he was sent down to make room for Santiago. Hollimon started at second base -- the position Tigers manager Jim Leyland has said suits him best -- and went 0-for-3 with a walk and run. Hollimon batted .261 with one home run and two RBIs in 11 games with Detroit.

Santiago set to begin rehab soon
06/26/2008 12:28 PM ET
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- Tigers utility infielder Ramon Santiago could begin a Minor League rehab assignment next week as he works his way back from a separated left shoulder.

Santiago, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 5, shed the specialized cast he was wearing last week and has started to hit soft-toss pitches in the cage. He could begin hitting in full batting practice this weekend and then start playing in games when the Tigers hit the road next week.

To get Santiago back would be a boon to the Tigers bench, which has lost some versatility this month between his injury and Brandon Inge's pulled left oblique muscle. Prospect Michael Hollimon, called up when Santiago went on the DL, made his third start at shortstop on Thursday to give a day off to starter Edgar Renteria, but the Tigers would prefer Hollimon to get regular at-bats at Triple-A Toledo and work on his game.

Santiago, known more for his solid defense than his bat, was enjoying one of his better offensive seasons coming off the Tigers bench when he was injured. He's batting .361 (13-for-36) with seven walks, four doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBIs.

Santiago Separates Shoulder

06/04/2008 8:59 PM ET
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

OAKLAND -- It was a diving attempt in a game that was already pretty much out of reach. Still, in an odd twist, Ramon Santiago ended up paying for his hustle.

The Tigers infielder tried to stretch out for a ground ball up the middle in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 10-2 loss to the A's. He ended up separating his left shoulder, an injury that is expected to land the utility man on the 15-day disabled list.

Santiago was making his first start of the Tigers' nine-game West Coast road trip, giving Edgar Renteria a day off at shortstop. The A's had already plated three runs and built a 7-2 lead when Rob Bowen hit a ground ball up the middle. Santiago ranged to his left and ran it down, but as soon as he hit the ground to stop it, his glove shoulder popped out. He immediately rolled on the ground in pain.

"I dove for the ball and tried to knock it down, and I got stuck," Santiago said.

Essentially, he explained, he hit the ground chest-first and stayed there, but his shoulder popped out upon impact. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand was able to pop it back into place, but he was in pain for several minutes.

Santiago was feeling better as he talked with reporters after the game, but he's expected to feel more pain over the next couple days. He'll undergo an X-ray exam on the shoulder Thursday in Detroit to determine the extent of the separation.

Whatever the degree of injury, however, the Tigers are expecting a long enough absence to require a DL stint. Part of the problem isn't just the time off to rehab, but the role that Santiago plays. Santiago has played in just 18 games this season, but his versatility and solid defense have made him a useful reserve, not to mention strong insurance policy at several positions in case of injury.

Ryan Raburn also backs up at second and third, but not short. Brandon Inge could back up at shortstop in a pinch, but he's battling a pulled left oblique muscle. Thus, it's possible the Tigers will call up an infielder from Triple-A Toledo to fill in. It's uncertain whether they would call up prospect Michael Hollimon to work as a reserve, interrupting the steady diet of at-bats he's receiving to develop as a hitter.

Tigers' Gloves for Kids program a big hit

05/24/2008 7:15 PM ET
By Scott McNeish / MLB.com

DETROIT -- On Saturday afternoon, the Tigers initiated their annual Gloves for Kids donation program, presented by CBS radio and the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

The program, which began in 1999, helps support youth baseball and softball in the city of Detroit. Fans donate usable equipment, such as bats, balls and, of course, gloves, in exchange for autographs from two Tigers players. If they have no equipment to donate, fans can make a cash donation of $10 per autograph.

Equipment goes to selected summer baseball leagues in Detroit. This year the Tigers picked the Eagle Sports Club on the east side of the city, a league, in its 10th year, which features more than 600 kids age 4 to 14.

"Their baseball leagues have really been struggling," manager of community affairs Alexandrea Trubis said.

The program's first stop this season was Saturday at the ABC Warehouse in Southfield on the corner of 10 Mile Road and Southfield Street. The next event is June 28 at the ABC Warehouse on Gratiot Avenue in Chesterfield. The Tigers will also visit the ABC Warehouse on Plymouth Road in Livonia on July 26 and a yet-to-be-announced location on Aug. 16.

A collection event will take place at Comerica Park on Aug. 30 before the Tigers take on the Royals.
"We're trying to collect equipment that people can use," Trubis said. "The whole point is to get them equipment so [kids] can play and get them ready to play in the big leagues some day."

Ramon Santiago
and Ryan Raburn represented the first player tandem to sign autographs for the program this year.
With the exception of Curtis Granderson, team officials could not confirm other players that will appear in future events. The team generally releases names of players that will sign two weeks before the event.
Santiago and Raburn sat with Sharpies in hand at a table on a large black stage while fans, who lined up more than hour prior to the event, formed a line that wrapped around the side of the store and touched the back. The duo signed photographs provided for fans, as well as bats, balls, hats and T-shirts.
"It's great to see the Tigers doing something like this for kids," said Patty Swanson, a devoted fan. "It's a two-way street: people get stuff signed and kids get good stuff to play with. Everybody wins."

May 3, 2008

Practice pays off for Tiger Ramon Santiago By JOHN LOWE FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
Ramon Santiago said he got many congratulatory messages from his family in the Dominican Republic on his performance as the Tigers shortstop Thursday night. First, Santiago denied the Yankees the go-ahead run with a spectacular stop up the middle and a difficult flip to second. In the next inning, he put the Tigers ahead to stay with a two-run triple.
Before Thursday, Santiago had played only five innings this season at short. But he takes grounders there daily during batting practice. The dedication paid off Thursday.

Quotes from Detroit Manager Jim Leyland, March 21st, 2008:

"Santiago is a really tremendous utility infielder; he can really play shortstop, and he's swinging the bat better...You know, he's a real bona fide middle utility infielder in the Major Leagues, in my opinion. I love him on the team. He's a good man, never says anything, goes about his business, doesn't bother anybody, doesn't cause any waves." And he's there for whenever the Tigers need him.  (Detroit Manager Jim Leyland, March 21st, 2008)
Santiago es un jugador del cuadro interior realmente tremendo de la utilidad; él puede jugar realmente frenador, y él columpia el batea mejor. ..You sabe, él es un jugador del cuadro interior mediano, auténtico y verdadero de la utilidad en las Ligas principales, en mi opinión. Yo lo adoro en el equipo. El es un hombre bueno, nunca dice nada, va acerca de su negocio, no molesta nadie, no causa ninguna onda". Y él está allí para siempre que los Tigres lo necesitan. (Manager de Detroit Jim Leyland, 21 de March, 2008) 

Baseball Write Lynn Henning of the Detroit News:  (Ramon is) one of my favorite baseball players of all time. You will cover sports for decades and never meet a finer person. He is warm, intelligent, witty, and a precise professional in the field and in the clubhouse. The Tigers are lucky to have him.
Ramon es uno de mis jugadores de béisbol favoritos de todo tiempo. Usted cubrirá los deporte por décadas y nunca encontrará a una persona más fina. El está tibio, inteligente, ingenioso, y un profesional preciso en el campo y en el club. Los Tigres tienen suerte para tenerlo.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
30 seconds with Ramon Santiago
Lynn Henning / The Detroit News
Q. Your role has been established: You're a utility infielder, a back-up infielder. Does that bother you in any way that your place in baseball seems to have been determined?
A. No, it does not bother me. I just try to do my best. I really like that Skip (manager Jim Leyland) gives me the opportunity. I know my role. I just want to be ready.
Q. Your favorite position is shortstop. How easy for you is it to move to second base, or to third base?
A. When you play shortstop, you can adjust, because shortstop is one of the harder positions to play. The key is to get your work (practice time at other positions) done.
Q. Leyland always has had a special kind of confidence in you. How much does that mean to you?
A. I'm really proud of that. Anytime he gives me the opportunity to get into the game, it means a lot. It's the reason why I try to come to the game every day ready to work hard and to play hard.

Tigers re-sign Santiago for one year
11/11/2007 5:50 PM ET
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers didn't see Ramon Santiago as an everyday shortstop for 2008. They still, however, see him as a potentially key part of their club.
Less than two weeks after trading for Edgar Renteria, the Tigers retained Santiago by agreeing to terms on a one-year Major League contract. The deal calls for a $575,000 salary if he sticks in the big leagues, which would likely be as a utility infielder.
Santiago essentially ended last season splitting time with Carlos Guillen as Detroit's starting shortstop, manning the position on days when Guillen started at first base. His strong defense filled a void the Tigers wanted to fill for the stretch run when they purchased his contract from Triple-A Toledo on Aug. 17.
The 28-year-old switch-hitter batted .284 (19-for-67) with five doubles, a triple, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored in 32 games, including 17 starts at short. He committed two errors in 93 total chances for a .978 fielding percentage. He batted .263 in 91 games for the Mud Hens with 19 doubles, three homers and 30 RBIs.
His performance in Detroit was enough to earn close to regular playing time at short down the stretch, but when the Tigers decided to move Guillen to first full-time next year, the question of how Santiago would hold up over a full season prompted the team to look outside the organization at short. His new deal gives him a chance to shore up a reserve role next spring.
"The Tigers again showed their commitment to Ramon Santiago," Santiago's agent, Bill Rego, said Sunday. "I think it puts Ramon in a really, really favorable position for '09."
Santiago has seen time with the Tigers the last two seasons after rejoining the organization as a Minor League free agent in 2006. He was one of eight arbitration-eligible Tigers this winter, but it's debatable whether Detroit would've gone to arbitration with him or non-tendered him in December, putting him in a cluttered free agent market of infielders.
The new deal guarantees Santiago a $250,000 salary if he ends up back in the Minors. If he reaches 250 plate appearances in the Majors, he'll earn a $25,000 bonus on top of whatever he earns in salary.
Santiago's role could depend in no small part on Detroit's potential offseason moves. The Tigers also have Omar Infante and Ryan Raburn in their utility infield ranks, but Infante -- also eligible for arbitration -- could be shopped to help fill other needs. Even if Infante remains, manager Jim Leyland said last year he sees Santiago as his best defensive option at short.
Raburn plays at second and third base, but not shortstop, and he could share time in left field. It's uncertain whether the Tigers want Guillen to make spot starts at shortstop or dedicate himself full-time to first base.

Tigers re-sign infielder Ramon Santiago to one-year deal

November 10, 2007
The Tigers reached an agreement with one of their eight arbitration-eligible players, as infielder Ramon Santiago signed a one-year deal with a $575,000 big-league salary.
Santiago is a good candidate to make Detroit's Opening Day roster, but the contract has a $250,000 guarantee if he is sent to the minors. The deal also includes a $25,000 incentive package based on at-bats.
“Ramon is very happy,” Santiago's agent, Bill Rego, said after the deal was finalized on Saturday. “I thought it was a very, very fair deal.”

Santiago, 28, has been a valuable utility infielder since returning to the Tigers as a minor-league free agent prior to the 2006 season. Though his primary contribution is as a reliable defender, Santiago also batted .284 in 32 games with Detroit this season.

Manager Jim Leyland has shown his trust in Santiago by starting him at shortstop in the first two games of last year's World Series and in several crucial September games this year.

The Tigers view Santiago as a better defensive shortstop than fellow utility infielder Omar Infante, who could be traded before spring training.

Video Clips of Ramon:

Ramon's 2-RBI Single Against the Indians Sept 18th, 2007

Ramon Goes 3 for 4 Against Cleveland on Sept 18th, 2007
Ramon's barehander vs Kansas City 30 Aug 07
Ramon fields deflection against Cleveland 23 Aug 07

Santiago makes case for short; fan club endorses full-time move 
Wants to stick at short
September 20, 2007
CLEVELAND -- His reputation has long included vast range and endless energy, but, sadly, not much pop in his bat. Teammates call him Happy because of his sunny disposition and carefree play.
Until last year, he was perhaps best known by Tigers fans as one of two players sent to Seattle in 2004 when Carlos Guillen, now a two-time All-Star, was dealt to Detroit.
But he returned to the Tigers before last season, and, in a manner too impressive to ignore, Ramon Santiago is doing all he can to earn a piece of the team's future -- even if he couldn't help the Tigers avoid a 4-2 loss and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Indians on Wednesday afternoon.

"I feel pretty good about the way I've been playing," Santiago said in a quiet clubhouse. "But I just wish we would've won those ballgames."

He went 6-for-10 in the three-game series and drove in four runs. On Monday, he bunted for a single -- on his own -- to score a man from third. On Wednesday, he was part of three double plays.

And he left town with a .298 average in 26 games this season.

"I've always known he was a good player," said Brandon Inge, who, like Santiago, was a young position player for Detroit in 2003. "He got thrown into the mix and wasn't quite ready, like I (wasn't).

"You don't have a very good year and you get that label: He's this type of hitter. He's this type of player. He's not quite an everyday starter. Yeah, right. That kid has more heart than 90% of the people I know."

Inge said there is "no question" that Santiago is capable of being an everyday shortstop in the big leagues. Naturally, members of the Ramon Santiago Fan Club -- founded three years ago, when Santiago played for Seattle -- agree.

"What's to keep them from starting him at shortstop?" asked Mark Abbott, the group's founder, when reached in Ocean Shores, Wash., on Wednesday. "His bat's coming around. If he gets enough at-bats, he'll continue to hit."
If the Tigers move Guillen to first base next season -- a very real possibility -- then they will need a shortstop, and Santiago appears to be the strongest internal candidate.

"He knows," Guillen said, "how to play this game."

Still, he's 28 and has yet to start at shortstop over a full season for a contending big-league team. Santiago entered the year with a .227 batting average in 276 big-league games -- a long-enough look, it would seem, to form an opinion about his ability.

Santiago, who was one of the team's final cuts in spring training, batted .263 in 91 minor league games and has played superbly since joining the big-league roster Aug. 17. Detroit manager Jim Leyland praised Santiago during this week's series but added, "Playing periodically and staying fresh is a whole lot different than playing 155 or 160 games at shortstop."

Santiago missed about one month at Triple-A Toledo this year after breaking his right ring finger while fielding a bad-hop ground ball July 13. The next hitter grounded to second base, and Santiago turned the double play -- crooked finger and all. Santiago remained in the game and singled in his last at-bat.

The finger is still swollen, but it hasn't affected Santiago's play. Abbott, the fan club's founder, recalled watching one of last month's highlight-reel pickups on a computer while volunteering with a humanitarian group in Darfur.
And then in Wednesday's sixth inning, Santiago reacted quickly on Casey Blake's smash toward the hole, scooped it up on his backhand and started an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Inge was asked how many other shortstops could do that.
"Not many," he said.

JON PAUL MOROSI at 313-223-4097 or jmorosi@freepress.com. Check out his Tigers blog at www.freep.com/sports.

09/18/2007 8:06 PM ET
Notes: Split at short works for Guillen
All-Star backs Santiago, questions potential pickups
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Guillen can accept moving to first base -- or even platooning there -- to make room for a quality shortstop. He'd rather do that than move to first base as a reactionary move under the notion that he can't play shortstop.
The question or whether and when to shift Guillen began last spring during his contract negotiations and resurfaced sooner than expected when Ramon Santiago was called up from Triple-A Toledo last month as a defensive replacement. It's a debate that will likely flourish in the offseason as the Tigers try to fill an opening in the lineup at one of the two positions.

Guillen, not surprisingly, has a strong opinion on the subject. And just because he has taken his playing time at first base in stride doesn't mean he's ready to give up on shortstop altogether.

"I don't have a problem playing first base. I don't have any problem," Guillen said. "But if you bring in a shortstop, he [should] be a really good shortstop."

Guillen has played all over the infield over the course of his career. But as he pointed out, when he played second and third base his first couple years in Seattle, it was because the Mariners had Alex Rodriguez.
Right now, the Tigers don't have another All-Star at short. They do, however, have Santiago, who has filled in admirably on defense when Guillen has played at first base. To Guillen, he's a pretty good option.
"He can play every day," Guillen said. "He played in the World Series. He did a pretty good job."
Manager Jim Leyland again heaped praise on the job Santiago has performed down the stretch defensively. He also said that whatever they've had offensively from the 28-year-old has been a bonus.

"I like [Santiago]. He's played tremendous at shortstop," Leyland said. "He's very, very good. We're very happy with that."

That said, Leyland has indicated on more than one occasion that he doesn't see Santiago holding up to the wear and tear of an everyday shortstop over the course of a full season.

"I like him. He's a nice little player," Leyland said. "But playing periodically and staying fresh and everything is a whole lot different than playing 155, 160 games at shortstop."

Guillen is fine with the arrangement as it is now, splitting starts with Santiago at shortstop while playing first base on other days. If they're going to bring him someone from outside the organization, however, he'd like to see them go for a big-name contributor to justify it.

"I don't have any problem. I just want to win," Leyland said. "My point is if you bring in a shortstop who makes $5-7 million, he needs to fit."

The free-agent market is not deep at shortstop, with 40-year-old Omar Vizquel and 32-year-old David Eckstein shaping up to be the leaders of the class. The other options would be via trade, with several teams facing decisions on whether to keep veteran shortstops or go younger at the position. Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson was a much-rumored trade target, but he will coincidentally average just under $7 million over the next two seasons under his long-term contract.
Ivan Rodriguez, for one, would like to see Guillen remain primarily a shortstop.

"It's good for him to take a couple of days rest and play first base, but not to play every day at first base," Rodriguez said. "Shortstop, that is his position."


Tigers | Team re-signs R. Santiago
Wed, 29 Nov 2006 11:17:10 -0800
Jon Paul Morosi, of the Detroit Free Press, reports the Detroit Tigers have re-signed 2B Ramon Santiago to a one-year deal which includes a $500,000 salary for the upcoming season. It also means the two sides will avoid salary arbitration.
Sun, Oct. 08, 2006
Playoff wins unite the generations
By Drew Sharp                   
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT - The greatest living Tiger, Al Kaline, wrapped his arm around the shoulders of the 25th man on the roster, reserve infielder Ramon Santiago , smoldering stogies protruding from their mouths. They just stood there, joyously soaking in the spontaneous release of sheer ecstasy unfolding before them in the Tigers' clubhouse, a generational gulf pulled together through one common thread.
Santiago has no concept of what No. 6 means to this city. How could he? His parents weren't even born when a scrawny 18-year-old from Maryland first began his major league career in 1953.
History has an instinctive way of finding its footing more in baseball than any other sport. And we're reminded as the Tigers prepare for their first American League Championship Series in 19 years that there is no sturdier strand capable of weaving together the past with the present than baseball - especially in Detroit.
Eliminating the Yankees in the Division Series reconnected this city to its roots as a baseball town. There were grandfathers jockeying for position with teenagers in the Comerica Park stands 30 minutes after the Tigers' clinching 8-3 victory, pushing themselves as close as possible to the splashes of champagne that players victoriously fired into the night air Saturday.
The Symington men understand this special bond.
Jay Symington, 48, recognized me as I walked to Comerica Park on Saturday. He stopped to say hello. He was there with his 74-year-old father, Jake, and his 16-year-old son, Ryan.
It was interesting listening to three generations with three different stories to tell. Jake was 13 when his father took him to Briggs Stadium for Game 2 of the 1945 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. And it was amazing how 61 years hadn't dulled the vivid detail of his most cherished memory of that afternoon_his hero, Hank Greenberg, knocked out a home run in a 4-1 Tigers' victory.
Twenty- three years later, Jake took then 10-year-old Jay to Tiger Stadium for Game 5 of the 1968 World Series. The Tigers were given up for dead, trailing the heavily favored St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1. The local mood was so desolate that many ticket holders surrendered their seats because they didn't want to witness the end of a magical season.
Jake got a pair of tickets at the last minute, and father and son played a little hooky that Monday.
The Tigers won Game 5 and, as everyone knows, went on to win the Series.
But the three Symingtons were together Saturday because there was never a reference point for meaningful Detroit baseball in Ryan's life. He grew up a Yankees fan because that's all he saw on television. But Saturday, he had on his Tigers jacket and Olde English D cap.
There's always a swell of civic pride when the Red Wings and Pistons win championships and the Lions get first downs, but the prospect of championship baseball offers more of a familial touch.
The old suddenly find some shared ground with the young.
"Moments like this always bring back good memories," said former Tigers great Willie Horton. "You know if you've lost your father, you see something like this and it probably puts a smile on your face because you'll remember that probably some of the best times you ever had with your father as a kid probably involved baseball in some way. Going to a game or just playing catch."
It's true. I was flushed with memories of my late father as I stared out of the press box, marveling at an impromptu party in the stands that still didn't want to end an hour after the Tigers recorded the final out.
My father and I were in the rightfield upper deck at Tiger Stadium the last time Detroit partied after wrapping up a playoff series at home - Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.
Kaline and Horton, both assistants to president Dave Dombrowski , provide the historical benchmark to this current collection. They're here so that the young guys appreciate what it means wearing that D on your chest.
"It's a great feeling," Santiago said. "It means a lot to everybody here. We make them feel good."
Santiago's but another fraction of a season that continually surpasses expectations, but there's nothing surprising about baseball in its purest form. This is a pastime that respects its elders.
TIGERS CORNER: Infante, Santiago play big role as super subs BY JON PAUL MOROSI FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER September 5, 2006 Second baseman Placido Polanco remains on the disabled list with a separated left shoulder, and shortstop Carlos Guillen hasn't played since suffering a strained right hamstring Saturday. For the second straight day Monday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland started Omar Infante at second and Ramon Santiago at shortstop. "We're obviously strapped right now," Leyland said before Monday's 6-2 win over Seattle. "Our double-play combination is out. It's that simple. We have to make do the best we can." Infante and Santiago contributed sound defense and RBIs, and the team seemed encouraged at the progress of Guillen and Polanco. Leyland said Guillen might play in a four-game series in Minnesota that starts Thursday night. He ran Monday at 75% and performed agility drills, said trainer Kevin Rand. "He's very valuable," Rand said. "We have to make sure we protect him." Polanco has begun taking ground balls. He swung a bat underwater Monday, helping rebuild his range of motion. Rand said the initial prognosis -- that Polanco could play this month -- has stayed the same. Backup infielder Neifi Perez said Monday his sore wrist has improved, and Leyland expects he will play Wednesday. President and general manager Dave Dombrowski said he wasn't pursuing players from outside the organization. The Tigers could still trade for an infielder, but that player would be ineligible for the postseason. LIVING LARGE: It appears likely Santiago will be able to live in his apartment for a while -- something he hasn't been able to do throughout the season. He made the team out of spring training, but was sent to Triple-A Toledo twice. Each time, he swapped apartments with outfielder Alexis Gomez, who began the year with the Mud Hens. Gomez had an apartment close to Toledo's Fifth Third Field, and always seemed to be in the majors when Santiago wasn't. Now, Santiago and Gomez are in Detroit. Santiago is back in his downtown apartment. Gomez is living at a hotel, but will probably look for an apartment now, too. Before the game, Leyland talked about the need for Santiago to play his game -- singles, bunts and the hit-and-run -- rather than mimic Guillen's game. He was successful. "I just do what I can do," Santiago said. "Carlos is a great player. I hope he gets better." SANTIAGO SET TO REJOIN TIGERS August 16, 2006 By JON PAUL MOROSI FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER TOLEDO - Infielder Ramon Santiago went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs in Toledo's 8-6 victory over Durham on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field. After the game, he learned it would be his last game with Toledo for a while. Santiago was told that he had been promoted to the Tigers to replace second baseman Placido Polanco, who went to the disabled list with a separated shoulder. Santiago got the news from Toledo manager Larry Parrish and Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, who attended the game. He received congratulations from his teammates before leaving the clubhouse. "Its never good when somebody gets hurt, but I'm going to go there and try to perform," Santiago said. "I feel bad for him, and the team, but I'm going to do my best." The switch-hitting Santiago hit .246 for Toledo, but he has batted much better over the last two weeks. Including Tuesday, he hit safely in nine of his last 11 games (.316, one home run, five doubles, 10 RBI). "It took time," Santiago said. Santiago remembered how, at the time he was sent to Toledo last month, manager Jim Leyland told him, "Play hard. You'll be back." Santiago planned to call his mom as he left the ballpark Tuesday night to tell her that he was returning to the big leagues. "Mom's first," he said. "Always." Backup Santiago treated like star Infielder's fans hit Safeco to see former Mariner BY JON PAUL MOROSI FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER April 22, 2006 SEATTLE -- The Web sites, the salsa dancing, the trip to the Dominican Republic -- Mark Abbott traces it all to a restaurant outside Phoenix. Abbott was on a trip to Arizona with family members, getting an early look at the 2004 Mariners, when he recognized two -- Ramon Santiago and Hiram Bocachica -- at dinner. "We just started talking," Abbott said. Neither player made the Opening Day roster, but they kept their newest fans. Abbott and his crew were vocal enough at Triple-A games in Tacoma that then-Rainiers manager Dan Rohn noticed. Santiago, a Dominican infielder, and Bocachica, a Puerto Rican outfielder, told Abbott they never had attracted full cheering sections or signs. This weekend, Santiago will be followed by fans at the Tigers-Mariners games at Safeco Field. Santiago now is a backup for the Tigers. Bocachica is in the Oakland Athletics' system. "They're very genuine, very humble," said Abbott, a resident of Vashon Island, Wash., who plans to attend Sunday's series finale. "They really appreciate it." The allegiances are official now. Abbott champions the Ramon Santiago Fan Club (www.ramon-santiago.com). Abbott's sister, Jere Witherspoon, takes care of the Bocachica legion (www.hirambocachica.com). Santiago's club has about 35 members, Abbott said. It is as informal as ever. Membership is free. Abbott and Witherspoon pay the administrative costs. "I don't want any money," Abbott said. Friendship will do just fine. Santiago's parents have stayed with Abbott on trips to Seattle. Abbott sits with Ramon's brothers at games. And when Santiago faced an uncertain future after last season, Abbott, a pilot for Federal Express, found space to store his car in an airplane hangar. The player-fan relationship remains personal, even after Santiago's return to the Tigers, his original organization. Last week, Abbott flew to watch the Tigers in Detroit. The idea, for Abbott and others, is to soak up as much of Santiago's ebullience as possible -- a pastime of managers, players and fans alike. Santiago was the steady, sunny influence amid 209 roster moves at Tacoma last season, on a roster that included prospects Felix Hernandez, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez. The Rainiers won their division -- and Santiago was named team MVP. "He was the mainstay," said Rohn, a Traverse City resident who is now a Mariners coach. "He plays hard. He has fun. He has that bubbly personality. He's just a great kid. You can't help but like him." Santiago lives in a small town near the Haitian border, with bumpy roads, a single motel and some other ballplayers in the neighborhood -- including Juan Encarnacion, the former Tiger. To hear Abbott tell it, Las Matas de Farfan is also home to a spectacular New Year's celebration -- which he and his wife, Sherry, attended this year. "There were hundreds of people around Ramon's place, with some big stereo out the back of his SUV," Abbott recalled. "Wherever you go, they all know Ramon. They all love him. The whole family's that way. They're pretty popular." Despite differences in language, lifestyle and income, they're popular far from home, too. When Santiago went salsa dancing at a Seattle nightspot after a game last year, Abbott and some other fans joined him. "They treat us just like their other friends," Abbott said of Santiago and Bocachica. "They're good to us. And we're good to them." Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc. Thanks to fan club, Santiago making roster is world-wide news Friday, March 31, 2006 By Danny Knobler WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- It was, quite literally, a decision heard round the world. Ramon Santiago made the Detroit Tigers roster as a utility infielder, and there was cheering from Las Matas de Farfan in the Dominican Republic to Subic Bay in the Philippines. Las Matas makes sense, because that's the small town near the Haitian border where Santiago grew up, and where his family still lives. But Subic Bay? "I saw it on the Web site, and I said, `Oh my gosh! That's great!' " Mark Abbott said Thursday, on a truly long-distance phone call. "I'm already planning to fly to Detroit for the second and third home games.'' Abbott, as you may have guessed by now, is a huge Santiago fan. He runs the "Ramon Santiago Fan Club'' Web site, at www.ramon-santiago.com, and he's been known to show up at Santiago's games with banners. "There's about 10 of us,'' said Abbott, who flies MD-11s for Federal Express and this week has been going back and forth between Subic Bay and Shanghai, China. "We all live in Seattle. We went to see the Mariners in spring training in 2004, and we started cheering for two guys who were doing well that no one had ever heard of.'' The two were Santiago and Hiram Bocachica, an ex-Tiger. Eventually, Abbott and his sister started Web sites for both. Since then, Abbott and his wife have followed Santiago's career closely. They even traveled to the Dominican to watch Santiago play in winter league. They've watched closely this spring, as Santiago tried to make the Tigers as a non-roster player. Now he has. Santiago's story would be interesting enough, anyway. As a second baseman, he and Omar Infante were the Tigers' starting double-play combination on opening day 2003. Now, after trips to the minor leagues and (in Santiago's case) to Seattle, they're back together as the Tigers' two utility infielders. "It's funny,'' Santiago said Thursday, before the Tigers' 6-4 exhibition loss to Cleveland. "We opened 2003 playing together, and now here we are.'' "I think that's two pretty good utility infielders,'' manager Jim Leyland said. "And Infante may be more than that, because he may be able to play the outfield, too.'' But as of now, only Santiago has a Web site.
Logan among Tigers' roster cuts Santiago secures a spot - utility infielder 03/29/2006 4:15 PM ET By Jason Beck / MLB.com LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Tigers moved within two pitchers of setting their Opening Day 25-man roster on Wednesday by shedding six players from camp, including center fielder Nook Logan. Logan, utility infielder Don Kelly and right-handed reliever Mark Woodyard were optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Minor League invitees Alexis Gomez, Mike Hessman and Hector Mercado were reassigned to Minor League camp. With those moves, manager Jim Leyland set the 13 position players on his roster. Ramon Santiago made the team as a second utility infielder, Marcus Thames won the fourth outfielder competition by beating out Gomez and Logan. The latter was more of a surprise. Though Thames has hit well this spring, batting .298 with four home runs and seven RBIs, he's not a center fielder, instead limited to the corner spots. That was expected to be a hindrance compared to Logan and Gomez, who can conceivably play any of the three spots. Because left fielder Craig Monroe can shift over to center or start some games there, it wasn't as big of an issue to Leyland as first thought. Monroe's flexibility allowed Leyland to keep the power bat that he wanted to have on his bench. It's a turnabout from last year, when Thames' solid spring went for naught once then-manager Alan Trammell kept Bobby Higginson on his roster. Thames was called up less than two weeks later, and he hit a grand slam in his first game back, but he struggled from there. Thames has generally struggled in a bench role with a lack of at-bats. "I just want this guy to get a chance," Leyland said. "I know he hasn't done it in that situation, but he's one of ours. I think he's earned the right to at least get another shot to see if he can do it. I really like him a lot. I have respect for him." Logan's omission from the roster was a slight surprise, more so based on the potential role he had going into Spring Training. His struggles in spring games, including a three-error game and a .207 average, put him behind in the competition for the center-field job. Even a respectable spring, however, probably wouldn't have helped against Curtis Granderson's .389 average, five homers, 10 RBIs, 11 walks and seven stolen bases. Once Granderson won the starting job flat-out, Logan was likely headed to Toledo. "To start out with, I don't want Granderson looking over his shoulder knowing that there's another center fielder sitting right there," Leyland said. "I want to give Granderson the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, he won the job, and I don't want him looking over his shoulder if he goes 0-for-4 and strikes out three times, and that's certainly going to happen. I want to try to get him to settle in and see what happens." No additional pitchers were named to the team on Wednesday, but Leyland said that he's basically made up his mind about who to take. The extra couple of days are intended to help sort out some options, including possible trades. Detroit has three spots still open in the bullpen and five pitchers still in the running for them: Jason Grilli, Roman Colon, Chris Spurling, Franklyn German and Bobby Seay. Grilli and German are both out of options, meaning they would have to pass through waivers in order to be outrighted to Toledo. Neither is expected to clear waivers if he's placed on it. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Notes: Chance remains for Santiago 03/27/2006 7:25 PM ET By Jason Beck / MLB.com LAKELAND, Fla. -- Ramon Santiago hit .377 in Spring Training two years ago and didn't break camp with the Mariners. He hit .294 last spring and began the season back in Triple-A Tacoma. The last time he was in Tigers camp, he hit .227 in the spring of 2003 and still unseated Damion Easley at second base. After all that, Santiago has learned better than to try to think up roster scenarios. "I don't ask," he said. "I just come here every day and try to enjoy it and work hard. The final days, you wonder a little bit what's going on, but you have to keep trying to the end." If Santiago makes the Tigers this year, his hitting will be far from the primary reason. For that matter, Santiago himself probably won't be the main reason. It's not that Santiago hasn't done much. His .270 average includes four extra-base hits out of 10 total, and his 11 RBIs rank third on the team behind Brandon Inge and Chris Shelton. With eight walks in 22 games, he has a .426 on-base percentage. That's fine, but manager Jim Leyland doesn't need a hitter if he takes a second utility infielder. More than anything, he needs a healthy shortstop who can shuffle around the infield. "When all is said and done," Leyland said after Monday's 5-3 win over the Astros, "we're going to try to come out of here with the most maneuverability for a four-man bench." Leyland talks about a second infielder on his bench using the term, "if," but that's because his infield health is the same way. The Tigers received encouraging news Monday when tests on Carlos Guillen's stiff back revealed nothing major, but he still won't play again until Wednesday at the earliest, skipping an uncomfortable bus ride to Vero Beach. It was enough of a concern that Guillen didn't want to talk about it prior to Monday's game. "I want to make it perfectly clear he's my shortstop, and I can't wait to see him play," Leyland said, "but I don't think he's felt right all spring. I was suspicious of it before." The primary backup, Omar Infante, has been battling a weak shoulder not just throughout camp, but for the better part of last year. No structural damage has ever been found on it, but his sporadic weak throws are the main sign it's still not healthy and a real concern if he had to play at short. "I don't know if I would feel confident playing him at short for an extended period of time," Leyland said. That might well leave Santiago and Minor League infielder Don Kelly in line for the roster opening created when the Tigers released Carlos Pena on Sunday. Santiago has received the bulk of the fill-in time at short over the past week or so. So far, he's made an impression out of it. While Brandon Inge's eighth-inning grand slam won Monday's game for the Tigers, Leyland lamented that a ninth-inning defensive play from Santiago got overlooked in the process. It was fitting, since it's easy to overlook Santiago in general. "I like him a lot," Leyland said. "I think he's a very good utility middle infielder. I think he's excellent. He's always ready catching the ball. He's got nice, soft hands. He's got a good arm, and he showed me something that doesn't get in the box score." He has something else that doesn't show in the stats. For a small utility infielder, he has a little bit of a swagger. "He's got a real good look about him," Leyland said. "He's a confident player. I like the way he goes about his business." That's because after all these close calls, Santiago knows better than to put pressure on himself. "Just play and enjoy the game," he said. "Don't think about it or anything. Just try to go there and have fun and play hard. You don't have control over the other things. The only thing you can control is playing hard every time. "I'm going to play any position they put it in. I'll do whatever to make the team. I just want to be part of the team." Monday, March 20, 2006 Burning Questions Lynn Henning / The Detroit News KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Burning questions two weeks before the Tigers start their 162-game parade at Kansas City. Q . Will Carlos Pena make the team? A. That’s the question everyone in Lakeland seems to be debating. The thought here is, no, the Tigers will not go north with three first basemen when Chris Shelton and Dmitri Young are locks to make the club. In this book, the math is simple. Pena loses out. He simply has not shown that he can be a consistent hitter. Q . Leyland would take Ramon Santiago over Pena? A . Santiago gives Leyland the late-innings defensive polish he needs at second base, shortstop or even third base. Santiago's presence is all the more important because of Omar Infante's lingering shoulder problems, which make throws from shortstop problematic. Santiago over Pena is the easy call -- today. Utility players fill key roles Lynn Henning - The Detroit News Wednesday, March 15, 2006 Leyland says he will weigh attitude, versatility in deciding 'four extra guys' for his final roster. LAKELAND, Fla. -- Nothing messes up a Marchant Stadium box score quite like a 20-mph wind whistling out and beyond right-center field. Tuesday's gale, which accompanied the Tigers' 14-10 victory over the Indians, produced its share of crazy numbers: 34 base hits, 10 home runs and big days at the plate for unexpected sluggers such as infielder Ramon Santiago, who returned to his old club last autumn, and who continued his unlikely push for a regular-season job with a home run, triple, and double, good for 5 RBI in a wild Tigers victory. Santiago's bid to unseat Omar Infante as Detroit's reserve infielder would have shifted into a higher gear Tuesday if it weren't for Infante's effort: 3-for-3, including a home run and 3 RBI. It could make for some interesting roster decisions for Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who was raving about Santiago's efforts even before Tuesday's game. "I really like what I see of him," Leyland said. "Great range. And he's laying the bat on the ball. Don't get me wrong: He's a defensive player. But I like what I'm seeing." Infante is not exactly being squeezed out of a job. He's hitting .533, and last week endured serious outfield drills as the Tigers toy further with the idea of making Infante a part-time outfielder. "We've only got (room for) four extra guys," Leyland said, speaking of Detroit's 25-man regular-season roster. "The more versatility you've got, the better." Santiago, of course, was a Tigers prospect who played shortstop and periodic second base in Detroit for much of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He was sent to Seattle in January of 2004 as part of Detroit's trade for Carlos Guillen. Seattle released him after last season and Santiago signed with the Tigers as a minor-league free agent. A switch-hitter who can play anywhere in the infield, he is only 26 years old. Santiago's attitude is another reason Leyland is pleased. "I just try to come every day and play hard," Santiago said. "The manager likes that. He doesn't know me. I have to try and show him I want to play. "I try not to be too optimistic," he said. "Just to be positive. If I'm gonna make it, I'm gonna make it." The Tigers and Indians each hit five home runs Tuesday. Along with Santiago and Infante, Detroit got home runs from Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, and Mike Hessman. The extent to which Tuesday's winds influenced the offense made it difficult for Leyland to do much evaluating. "Santiago hit that ball (home run) good, and Granderson's was hit pretty good," the Tigers manager said. Santiago Slugs Tigers Past Partial Indians Squad 03/14/06 18:15 EST LAKELAND, Fla. (March 14) - Ramon Santiago homered, tripled, doubled and drove in five runs, leading the Detroit Tigers over a Cleveland split squad 14-10 Tuesday in a game featuring 10 home runs. Ryan Mulhern hit two of Cleveland's homers. Tigers starter Kenny Rogers was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits in four innings Santiago started at second base for the Tigers on opening day in 2003, and is now hoping to win a backup job in their infield. He was part of the trade that sent Carlos Guillen from Seattle to Detroit in January 2004, and has spent most of the last two years in Triple-A. "He's a defensive player, don't get me wrong," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Actually, he's been swinging the bat halfway decent down here. But I've just been impressed with the way he's handled himself." "He's really caught my eye," Leyland said. "He catches everything. His range is excellent. He's just made play after play this spring. He's been very impressive, quietly." 03/10/2006 5:30 PM ET Farmhands make impression By Jason Beck / MLB.com VERO BEACH, Fla.-- Don’t expect any complaints about the World Baseball Classic from players like Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago. In a normal Spring Training camp, they'd be extra players who entered later in games or started on road trips that regulars wouldn't want to make. In this Spring Training, they are the regulars. With Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco among the 10 Tigers playing in the World Baseball Classic and Omar Infante among the three prominent Tigers hitters out with injury, Kelly and Santiago formed Detroit's middle infield here Friday against the Dodgers. Considering the only Major League regulars on the trip were Curtis Granderson and Carlos Pena, Kelly and Santiago had company. All but three of Detroit's 12 runs were scored by players who spent most or all of their 2005 season in the Minor Leagues. Kelly went 2-for-5 with a solo home run and two runs scored. Santiago went 2-for-4 and homered to center with a breeze blowing out. Alexis Gomez went 4-for-5. Brent Clevlen added to his strong spring with his third homer in five days and two runs scored. When Jim Leyland says he's making the best of the situation, he's not the only one. "It's good for me," said Santiago, a non-roster invitee who put together strong springs the last couple of years in Seattle without making the big club. "It's a good opportunity. It makes a big difference. You prepare every day." Santiago signs with Tigers 01/04/2006 6:30 PM ET By Jason Beck / MLB.com DETROIT -- Ramon Santiago is back in the Tigers organization. Three years after he served as an everyday infielder on the 2003 Detroit club that lost 119 games, the Tigers have signed Santiago to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He'll be a non-roster invitee in big league camp. The last time Santiago was in Lakeland was 2003, when he teamed with Omar Infante for a young middle-infield tandem that was seen as the future of the Tigers organization. He became the everyday starter at shortstop a year earlier, but shifted over to second base to make room for Infante in the starting lineup. He later shifted back to shortstop once Warren Morris was called up. Santiago played in 141 games that year, hitting .225 with two home runs and 29 RBIs in 444 at-bats. He's played in 27 big league games since. All of those came with the Mariners, who acquired him before the 2004 season in the Carlos Guillen trade and shuttled him between Seattle and Triple-A Tacoma for the better part of two years. While continuing to flash his defensive skills, Santiago's hitting has been up and down. He hit .193 at Tacoma and .179 for Seattle in 2004. Though he went 1-for-8 with the Mariners last year, he showed marked improvement at Tacoma, where he batted .252 with 22 doubles, a career-high 10 homers, 50 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 129 games. He won team MVP honors for the Rainiers. More likely than not, with Infante holding the utility infield role in Detroit, Santiago will be counted on to provide similar offense at Triple-A Toledo in the Mud Hens' effort to defend their International League championship. Much like Jason Smith the last couple of years, the Tigers want Santiago to provide infield depth in case of injuries. "He's been a guy that's been up and down in Seattle," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We know him. He's a quality guy. We need more [depth]." That said, don't be surprised if Santiago sees a fair amount of playing time in Spring Training. With shortstop Carlos Guillen likely to miss at least some Tigers games in March to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, infield depth will be needed. Spring Training performance is a strength for Santiago, who hit .294 last spring for the Mariners and .377 a year earlier. Santiago joins a handful of Tigers Minor League signings who will take part in big league camp, including left-handers Bobby Seay and Hector Mercado, right-hander Tim Crabtree and outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Returning Mud Hens Alexis Gomez, Mike Hessman and Kevin Hooper were also re-signed with invites. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Santiago working his way back By Don Jacobson
May 6th, 2005 TACOMA, Wash. - Ramon Santiago's baseball career to this point has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Therefore, it's not surprising that he followed a solid spring with an 0-for-17 slump, and then turned it around in the next 20 days. But despite his hitting inconsistencies, Santiago maintains an even keel, basing his play on a foundation of hard work and a mentality of team before individual. But will this be enough to earn him another chance with the Mariners? Entering the sixth game of the Rainier's season, Ramon Santiago didn't need a calculator to figure out his batting average. That's because, at that point, he was 0 for the season, .000. Or maybe, better put, DOH! for the season. It wasn't supposed to be this way. For the second straight year, Santiago had put together an impressive spring. He combined his usual stellar defense and hustle with a .294 batting average, going 10 for 34. He wasn't sent down to Triple-A until the last week of spring training, when the M's unexpectedly picked up Wilson Valdez to start the year at shortstop. The stage was set for the 25-year-old to excel, especially offensively, and perhaps earn an early promotion to the big leagues. Instead, Santiago started the season 0-for-17. "I did a lot of things [to get out of the slump]. I worked in the cage every day," Santiago said. The switch-hitter admitted that a great deal of getting out of a slump is your attitude. "You've got to believe you can do it," the infielder remarked. Leading off the April 12th game against Sacramento, Santiago singled to right for his first hit of the year. Later in the seventh, he got his second hit, a line-drive homer to left. "Oh man! It felt good!" said Santiago, thinking back to his first hit of the season. Since that rough start, Santiago has reached base in 18 of the last 20 games. He is batting .297 (19 for 64) in those 20 games, and the stroke he showed this spring seems to be coming back. "I'm trying to hit pitches that are lower in the zone, and waiting for good pitches to hit." the 25-year-old explained, trying not to give away too much information. His improved production has helped the Rainiers on the scoreboard, as Santiago has scored 14 runs in the last 20 games. So which Ramon Santiago will the Rainiers see this season? Last year, after a .377 batting average in spring training, Ramon struggled mightily, hitting .193 for the Rainiers and only .179 for the Mariners. He has yet to show a consistent level of success hitting the baseball. So why does Santiago hit so well in spring training compared to the regular season? "I concentrate just as hard, and I use the same approach at the plate. I don't know, maybe I just hit better over there" the former Tiger offered, with a shrug. Before coming to the Mariners organization in the Carlos Guillen trade, Santiago played regularly for the Detroit Tigers, leading the AL in sacrifice bunts in 2003. He was called up four times last year to play infield for the Mariners, but hit very poorly. When talking about what he feels he needs to do to return to the Mariners, Ramon was very candid about his approach. "I try to work hard and play good defense and try to get my average up, work on my hitting." Santiago said. They say you never know what's going to happen." he added, perhaps alluding to injuries to shortstops Pokey Reese and Jose Lopez, shortstops ahead of Santiago on the M's depth chart. Even if his recent success with the bat does not last, Ramon Santiago is a valuable asset to the Rainiers. He plays great defense at second and shortstop, his work ethic is apparent on the field and he hustles on every play. A consummate team player, Santiago puts the team first when he talks about his goals for the year. "My goals are to come to the park every day and do the best I can to help my teammates." he said. Sunday, April 3, 2005 LARRY STONE / Baseball Reporter / The Seattle Times New Fan Favorite Ramon Santiago, the low-profile infielder fighting for the 25th spot on the Mariners' roster, would seem an unlikely candidate for a fan club and Web site. But, then, so would Bucky Jacobsen and ex-Mariner Hiram Bocachica, who have built their own cult following on the Internet. And now, thanks to a baseball-crazed brother-sister duo, Santiago can join them. Mark Abbott of Vashon Island and his sister, Jere Witherspoon of Newberg, Ore., are the driving forces behind both the Bocachica fan club/Web site (hirambocachica.com) and now Santiago's (ramon-santiago.com). Abbott first became acquainted with Santiago through his brother, Melvin, whom he befriended in the stands last year at Tacoma's Cheney Stadium. After meeting Ramon, Abbott decided he, like the likeable Bocachica, was worthy of support. "They root for me, and I really appreciate it," Santiago said. "I love the fans." Jere set up the site initially, and now Abbott has taken it over, providing frequent updates of Santiago's performance a big help to his family and friends back in the Dominican Republic. "He's very quiet, humble," Abbott said of Santiago. "He doesn't act like a big shot. If you go out in public with him, he tries to blend in with everyone. He's very easy to cheer for. We all feel he has a great career ahead of him and want to see him succeed. Wednesday, March 23, 2005 By JOHN HICKEY SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
THE NEW SANTIAGO Ramon Santiago batted .377 in the Cactus League a year ago and didn't make the Mariners' Opening Day roster. Seattle liked the average the backup middle infield candidate posted but not the way he got it -- too many balls hit in the air. With a grounder up the middle for a two-run single as the centerpiece of a game-winning, four-run rally in yesterday's 6-4 win over the White Sox, Santiago is again hitting for a high average -- .381. But the hits look a whole lot different. No bloops. No flares. Just hit-it-where-they-ain't baseball. "I knew that I couldn't hit the ball in the air like I did last year," Santiago said. "I've worked a lot on keeping the ball down." People are taking notice. Among them is Hargrove, who said yesterday that Santiago's bid for a roster spot has to be taken seriously because of the improvement in his game. "I heard about the spring he had last year," Hargrove said. "He's not the kind of hitter who can afford to be in the air. He's got to be a ground ball and gap hitter, somebody who goes line to line. That's what he's done this year. "It may be a logical angle to think that he doesn't have a real chance, but that's not the way I see it. He's kept the ball in the gaps and has done a lot of good things. He's got a shot at making this club. And if he doesn't know it, he should." Santiago knows. Or at least he believes. "I've been working at it," Santiago said. "I feel I've got a chance to be here. I'm waiting for that chance. I want to be there Opening Day." ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2004 Ramon Santiago: A Big Leaguer at Heart By Joe Kaiser Date: Jul 8, 2004 When the M's traded SS Carlos Guillen to the Detroit Tigers for Ramon Santiago and minor league infielder Juan Gonzalez, Mariner fans wondered what they got in return for one of their regulars over the past four seasons. What they got was a decent prospect in Gonzalez and a hard- working, defensive wizard in Santiago. Santiago's quest to become a full-time big leaguer lives on in every move he makes in the minors. Back in March, Ramon Santiago was making the most of every opportunity thrown his way in his first Spring Training with the Mariners. As the new guy on the club, acquired two months earlier in the Carlos Guillen deal, Santiago hit the ball as well as anyone on the team, opening eyes with his bat and his sure-handed defense. When Spring Training ended, though, the 24-year-old shortstop was left on the outside looking in, sent down to Triple-A Tacoma. And while it was Hiram Bocachica who got most of the attention for his demotion to the Rainiers, Santiago found himself in the same situation only without the fanfare. Fast-forward three months to present day, and Santiago has already been called up to the Mariners twice but been optioned back to Tacoma each time. Stuck in the land of the "Four-A Player," in between Triple-A and the majors, the personable Dominican Republic native says the rollercoaster ride of 2004 hasn't fazed him. "I understand the situation," he said last week, talking to InsidethePark.com after batting practice at Cheney Stadium. "They signed (Rich) Aurilia for a year. He's got to play. It doesn't bother me. They called me up, and every time I went up it was nice. It was a good time." Santiago spent each of the last two seasons primarily in the major leagues, playing at a young age for a Detroit organization thin both in depth and experience. Still a youngster, the infielder just wants to continue to get playing time, even if it means having to do so in the minor leagues. "I'd rather stay down here and play every day than be in the major leagues and have to sit on the bench," said Santiago. "It's better for me and better for my career. When you don't play, you lose your game." To be in a place like Fenway Park one night and somewhere like Fresno, Calif. playing in the minors the next isn't exactly an easy adjustment to make, but Santiago has grown used to his unique situation. He knows he's always a phone call away from the Mariners, and in the mean time he says his focus is on improving his hitting. Since Spring Training, his hot-hitting bat has left him, and while a wizard defensively at shortstop all season long, he's currently batting just .161 in 161 at bats with the Rainiers. He knows that needs to improve in order to stick with the big league club. "I'm not hitting very good for average right now," he said. "I think I can do better on that so I'm going to keep working on my hitting and every aspect of my game." The calls up to the big leagues have been both helpful and detrimental to his cause. Rubbing shoulders with guys like Edgar Martinez and Ichiro Suzuki, becoming a sponge and soaking up all he can remember, is never a bad thing, but at the same time being up with the Mariners also means very little playing time for Santiago. "This year is a little tough for me because I appreciate that they called me up a couple times," said Santiago. "I had a pretty good spring training and they've given me an opportunity. I need to keep working hard and doing my best. "Playing in the major leagues, so you learn what it takes to make it both mentally and physically. When I am up with the team in Seattle, I learn a lot from guys like Edgar and Ichiro. I learn how they prepare and how they are consistent every day." The days spent in Detroit are now a ways in the rear view mirror, and while Santiago says he misses his friends and all those he knew in the organization, he can't think of anything better than a chance to improve and one day be a member of the Seattle Mariners again. This time, for good.   
Playoff wins unite the generations
By Drew Sharp Detroit
Free Press
DETROIT - The greatest living Tiger, Al Kaline, wrapped his arm around the shoulders of the 25th man on the roster, reserve infielder Ramon Santiago , smoldering stogies protruding from their mouths. They just stood there, joyously soaking in the spontaneous release of sheer ecstasy unfolding before them in the Tigers' clubhouse, a generational gulf pulled together through one common thread.
Santiago has no concept of what No. 6 means to this city. How could he? His parents weren't even born when a scrawny 18-year-old from Maryland first began his major league career in 1953.
History has an instinctive way of finding its footing more in baseball than any other sport. And we're reminded as the Tigers prepare for their first American League Championship Series in 19 years that there is no sturdier strand capable of weaving together the past with the present than baseball - especially in Detroit.
Eliminating the Yankees in the Division Series reconnected this city to its roots as a baseball town. There were grandfathers jockeying for position with teenagers in the Comerica Park stands 30 minutes after the Tigers' clinching 8-3 victory, pushing themselves as close as possible to the splashes of champagne that players victoriously fired into the night air Saturday.
The Symington men understand this special bond.
Jay Symington, 48, recognized me as I walked to Comerica Park on Saturday. He stopped to say hello. He was there with his 74-year-old father, Jake, and his 16-year-old son, Ryan.
It was interesting listening to three generations with three different stories to tell. Jake was 13 when his father took him to Briggs Stadium for Game 2 of the 1945 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. And it was amazing how 61 years hadn't dulled the vivid detail of his most cherished memory of that afternoon_his hero, Hank Greenberg, knocked out a home run in a 4-1 Tigers' victory.
Twenty- three years later, Jake took then 10-year-old Jay to Tiger Stadium for Game 5 of the 1968 World Series. The Tigers were given up for dead, trailing the heavily favored St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1. The local mood was so desolate that many ticket holders surrendered their seats because they didn't want to witness the end of a magical season.
Jake got a pair of tickets at the last minute, and father and son played a little hooky that Monday.
The Tigers won Game 5 and, as everyone knows, went on to win the Series.
But the three Symingtons were together Saturday because there was never a reference point for meaningful Detroit baseball in Ryan's life. He grew up a Yankees fan because that's all he saw on television. But Saturday, he had on his Tigers jacket and Olde English D cap.
There's always a swell of civic pride when the Red Wings and Pistons win championships and the Lions get first downs, but the prospect of championship baseball offers more of a familial touch.
The old suddenly find some shared ground with the young.
"Moments like this always bring back good memories," said former Tigers great Willie Horton. "You know if you've lost your father, you see something like this and it probably puts a smile on your face because you'll remember that probably some of the best times you ever had with your father as a kid probably involved baseball in some way. Going to a game or just playing catch."
It's true. I was flushed with memories of my late father as I stared out of the press box, marveling at an impromptu party in the stands that still didn't want to end an hour after the Tigers recorded the final out.
My father and I were in the rightfield upper deck at Tiger Stadium the last time Detroit partied after wrapping up a playoff series at home - Game 5 of the 1984 World Series.
Kaline and Horton, both assistants to president Dave Dombrowski , provide the historical benchmark to this current collection. They're here so that the young guys appreciate what it means wearing that D on your chest.
"It's a great feeling," Santiago said. "It means a lot to everybody here. We make them feel good."
Santiago's but another fraction of a season that continually surpasses expectations, but there's nothing surprising about baseball in its purest form. This is a pastime that respects its elders.