Sergio Santos eager to retake role of closer
TORONTO -- Despite all of the upgrades the Blue Jays have made this offseason, it's last year's prized acquisition who has a chance to become the difference maker.
Sergio Santos was acquired last winter to solve all of Toronto's woes at the back end of its bullpen. At the time of the trade, which cost the Blue Jays pitching prospect Nestor Molina, it was heralded by many as one of the most underrated moves of the offseason.
Unfortunately for Santos and the Blue Jays, the deal has yet to pan out. Santos appeared in just six games before being lost for the season with a right shoulder injury, but he has since recovered and is looking forward to putting that disappointing 2012 season in his rear-view mirror.
"It's so exciting, and I think that's what I'm looking forward to most, knowing that when I get to Spring Training, I can close the chapter on 2012," Santos said. "I'm going to use it as a humbling year, gain some experience that way. This is a very humbling game, and now I have the fight and hunger more than ever to get back and prove who I was in 2011."
Santos arrived in Toronto on the heels of a season that saw the Blue Jays finish tied for the American League lead in blown saves, with 25. Santos was tabbed as the guy to solve that problem.
The converted shortstop has the ability to throw in the upper-90s, with a devastating slider and changeup combination that leads to a high number of strikeouts. It is the type of overpowering skill set that is ideal to have in late-innings situations.
The problem is that Santos has yet to display his high-ceiling talent in a Blue Jays uniform. He managed to pitch just five innings before succumbing to a shoulder injury. The ailment was originally supposed to keep Santos out for a couple of weeks, but the shoulder failed to improve.
Over the course of the next three months, Santos repeatedly attempted to get back onto the mound, but progress was always closely followed by setbacks. It was a frustrating and confusing time for Santos, who didn't know what was wrong with his shoulder until late in the year, when he underwent exploratory surgery by Dr. Lewis Yocum...
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