CHICAGO -- If Hector Santiago was given the choice to pitch winter baseball, he would be throwing off the mound right now in Puerto Rico.
Instead, Santiago is fixing up his new place in Goodyear, Ariz., and taking a little down time after throwing a career-high 149 innings during the 2013 season.
"I kind of felt scared to stop throwing," said a smiling Santiago, who was at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday as 12 players from the White Sox Amateur City Elite program signed collegiate letters of intent. "I wanted to go play winter ball but [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper], with a month left in the season, said, 'No chance.'
"It's the first time I actually stopped moving my arm in 5 1/2 years. I talked to [Addison] Reed and Donnie Veal at [Matt] Lindstrom's wedding and they said, 'You're throwing already?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I don't know what to do.'"
Santiago, who turns 26 next month, finished his first season as primarily a starter with a 4-7 record, 3.51 ERA and 122 strikeouts over 130 2/3 innings and 23 starts. He also made 11 relief appearances. He took off about 3 1/2 weeks after the 2013 season closed out, but then returned to throwing.
The elevated innings total didn't cause Santiago any offseason pain or issues. The first couple of offseason workouts were a different story.
"There was a lot more soreness, a lot more aches, waking up in the morning like, 'Ah, I should take a day off here,'" Santiago said. "But you just have to get through it. That was the first two weeks, so now I wake up ready to go and wanting to work out."
Although he looks to be a firm part of the 2014 rotation, Santiago checks out the trade rumors that occasionally include his name, but he doesn't put too much credence in any of them. He is one of four left-handers currently in the rotation, a talented hurler that has worked in pretty much every aspect of pitching.
Those varied roles make him an attractive trade target. But general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday that if the White Sox four best starters are left-handers, then they will go with four lefties. It's a mix that Santiago has considered and has approved in his mind.
"I thought about that a bunch. I was like, 'Are they actually going to go with four left-handed pitchers?' And I think they can," Santiago said. "I think they can sit back and say there are four left-handed pitchers, but they are strong enough that they can get out right-handers, because for the most part, I think everybody gets out right-handers pretty well and we do a good job against lefties, as well.
"They can sit back and say, 'Maybe we can try this out and see where it goes.' If they need to make a change they can always do it. I guess there's too much that goes into it and we can't think about that. We can just prepare ourselves to be a starter."
Hahn hopeful Konerko decides by Winter Meetings
CHICAGO -- There has been no official decision reached by Paul Konerko regarding his return for a 16th year as part of the White Sox.
But general manager Rick Hahn reiterated Tuesday that he expects a decision from the White Sox captain before the Dec. 9 start of baseball's annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
"It's good to have it resolved for his own preparation and in terms of [Konerko] getting ready for Spring Training to have it set by December," said Hahn, speaking after 12 members of the White Sox Amateur City Elite program signed their collegiate letters of intent Tuesday at the U.S. Cellular Field Conference and Learning Center. "I think we'll be able to do that.
"It could be tomorrow. It could be two weeks. More likely than not, it's going to be resolved prior to the Winter Meetings, before we leave here. I don't have a firm time frame, but I think it will be done before then."
Hahn and manager Robin Ventura met with Konerko after the White Sox agreed to a six-year, $68-million deal with Cuban free agent Jose Abreu, who figures to be regularly stationed at first base. Hahn spoke again with Konerko after that meeting, and then Ventura saw him at Gordon Beckham's wedding two weekends ago. The spirit of the meetings was to lay out the situation for Konerko and the team moving forward, with the decision left up to Konerko.
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told WSCR 670 AM, the team's flagship station, that Konerko "has earned the right to come back if he wants to come back" during a Saturday interview. Konerko not only has been one of the most accomplished hitters in franchise history but also has been a valued leader in and out of the clubhouse.
That sentiment was espoused by Hahn on Tuesday, who also agreed with his boss that Konerko wouldn't come back unless he saw a way to contribute.
"I don't think Paulie wants to play just to be on the bench or a farewell tour. That's not him," Hahn said. "He's not looking to go to every ballpark and receive a gift or a special sendoff from White Sox fans. He would want to play only if he felt he had something left in the tank and something to add to a club.
"We are dealing with the face of the franchise for the past 15 years, and one, whether he plays in 2014 or not, who will always be associated with a very successful era of White Sox baseball. Jerry publicly made it very clear that because of who Paul is and what he's done for this organization, he's earned the right to make this decision on his terms, and that's what we are providing him the opportunity to do."
Konerko's role almost assuredly would be somewhat more limited compared to his everyday play over the past 15 years. But Hahn stressed that waiting for Konerko's decision has not cramped the team's reshaping process.
"Obviously we have a plan if he's back and we have a plan if he's not back," Hahn said. "We haven't missed on any opportunities to fill that role if he doesn't fill it himself."
Hahn says trade talks gathering steam
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that the intensity of trade talks definitely has picked up in recent days.
"There's been a lot of names exchanged. A lot of ideas thrown across the board," Hahn said. "Not perhaps real good ideas, which is why nothing has taken place on the trade front just yet.
"Activity is picking up. The GM Meetings are a nice opportunity, as it is every year for teams to start getting a little more serious about fits and having more substantive talks with clubs and free agents. We well could have something in the next day, or it could take through [the Winter Meetings in] Orlando, [Fla.], when the logjam sort of breaks."