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Santiago closes in on bullpen spot

Hector Santiago threw two scoreless innings struck out three Thursday against Rangers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Hector Santiago threw two scoreless innings and struck out three Thursday against the Rangers. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:49AM

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Left-hander Hector Santiago’s second consecutive strong outing seemed to solidify his chances of winning one of the White Sox’ three open spots in the bullpen. Santiago started against the Texas Rangers’ top lineup and struck out Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Mike Olt in two scoreless innings.

Santiago threw about a dozen screwballs.

“From seeing some of the swings and some of the faces on these guys after they saw it, it was something they haven’t seen or was odd to them,’’ Santiago said.

The Sox open the season in Texas, so starter Gavin Floyd and relievers Addison Reed and Will Ohman faced the Rangers’ B team to avoid giving the regulars a look at them. Santiago and a list of prospects pitched in the A game.

“He’s a bulldog. He doesn’t back down,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “Again, he’s facing some good hitters, and to see him go after them like that and getting in a little bit of a bind and get out of it, it’s great to see.’’

Santiago, a 30th-round draft pick of the Sox in 2006, pitched 51/3 scoreless innings over two appearances last season. The New Jersey native pitched two scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.

Ventura’s first win

It was clear that Ventura didn’t want to go 0-4 when he pulled struggling right-hander Gregory Infante in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and made a matchup move in the eighth.

“It’s good to get wins just for the psyche of guys walking off the field, shaking hands,’’ Ventura said. “But most of the guys that you want to see do it are already driving home. It’s good for the young guys to kind of finish it off and do that, but I’m concerned about those first five innings a little more than the end right now.’’

Next up for Ventura: The Cubs, which means nothing, really, to Ventura.

“Not for me. We are just playing and everybody gets their at-bats,’’ he said. “You don’t want to go out and lay an egg, either.”

That had to hurt

Outfielder prospect Brandon Short crashed hard into the center-field wall and suffered a dislocated left shoulder.

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