CHICAGO -- The secret to Hector Santiago's return to late-inning success might be throwing a few less strikes.
Santiago specifically is targeting a reduction in the four home runs he has allowed in 6 1/3 innings, after giving up just 11 in 132 2/3 innings last season.
"I've actually thought about going out of the zone with certain pitches instead of trying to throw everything for strikes," Santiago said. "I try to make sure I don't walk anybody.
"Sometimes you have to go out of the zone to be able to get somebody to chase something, and I don't think I've been doing that of late. Maybe I need to get someone to chase something and ground out or swing over something."
Locating the screwball certainly is not an issue in Santiago's mind. He felt as if that pitch was at its best this season during Wednesday's appearance against the A's and still doesn't regret the changeup thrown to Yoenis Cespedes that led to the game-tying homer.
"I've actually figured out how to throw it at a lower velocity where I had it last year and throw a bigger break," said Santiago of his screwball. "It's just a fact that I'm throwing it right in the middle of the plate. I have to start working on getting off the plate."
Valentine, Ventura express mutual admiration
CHICAGO -- When Bobby Valentine managed Robin Ventura from 1999-2001 with the New York Mets, he never looked at his third baseman as a manager.
"But I looked at him as a leader. I looked at him as a guy who definitely knew the difference between right and wrong," said Valentine, who brought his Red Sox into town Thursday for a four-game set against Ventura's White Sox. "I don't think he ever mentioned any idea of managing.
"That's why I say no. Some guys -- [Joe McEwing], I always thought about him, because he would ask questions and we would talk. But I think Robin was the guy, if they ever had a closed-door meeting, I'm sure he was one of the guys who spoke up."
Ventura holds Valentine in high esteem as a manager, and doesn't believe Valentine should change his personality to fit the Boston situation.
"I know for me, I can't do that. I can't be someone else," Ventura said. "He's been successful. When you hire him, that's what you're hiring.
"He's smart. He knows a lot of different things. He sees a lot of things that go on in a game that in one way or another can be improved. He's been around. You learn a lot from a guy who is willing to experiment a little bit with different things -- defensively, lineups all that kind of stuff."
Minor Leaguer Rienzo suspended 50 games
CHICAGO -- White Sox right-hander Andre Rienzo was one of two Minor League pitchers suspended for 50 games due to violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention Treatment Program, as announced by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball on Thursday.
Rienzo, a 23-year-old native of Sao Paolo, Brazil, came to the team as a free agent in 2006. He was 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA for Class A Winston-Salem as part of its 2012 starting rotation.
After the suspension was announced, for Rienzo testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, the White Sox released a statement from Rienzo.
"I have been informed by Major League Baseball that I have tested positive for a prohibited substance, and as a result, I will be suspended for 50 games," Rienzo said in the statement. "I want to make it clear to Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox that I have never intentionally taken a prohibited substance.
"Unfortunately, during the offseason, I used a dietary supplement that I purchased at a health food store in my home country of Brazil, believing it to be legitimate. It is now apparent that the supplement was tainted. I understand that I am responsible for what I put in my body, and therefore have accepted the 50-game suspension. I look forward to returning to the game I love, and I appreciate the support the Chicago White Sox have given me during this process."
According to White Sox director of player development Buddy Bell, the organization found out about the suspension two weeks ago. At that time, Rienzo and his camp, which included his representative, Paul Kiner, decided to appeal through the proper channels.
They changed their mind after 10 days upon reviewing the history of getting suspensions overturned and knowing the process would take its toll on Rienzo if he continued to pitch through it. Taking the suspension immediately will bring back Rienzo around June 13 or 14, at which point he'll go back into the Dash rotation with a couple months of the season remaining.
"He was devastated at the positive," said Bell of Rienzo. "He's a great kid. You feel awful for this kid. They just have to pay attention. He just made a mistake, and we'll move forward. And we'll support him in whatever he needs at this particular time.
"We try to educate kids on these things. I don't know what's in GNC. I don't know what's available and what's not. I know what's prohibited, and kids have to pay more attention. Not sure if that's different in the foreign countries. I don't know, but they do have the information."
Bell believes Rienzo will learn from this experience, as will his teammates.
"Unfortunately, these kids learn in different ways," Bell said. "Knowing Andre the way I do, he will be a better person for it. He's a great kid anyway. Things like this have a way of helping you grow up.
"In terms of him professionally, we'll put someone else in his place and try to keep him as physically fit as we possibly can. When June 13 or June 14 comes around, he'll be ready to go.
"And we will continue to talk to him about what has happened. We are not going to brush it under the rug like it never happened."
Crain's left oblique a day-to-day process
CHICAGO -- After throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session before Thursday's series opener against the Red Sox, Jesse Crain said that his target date to return from a sore left oblique ideally would be Friday.
It's more likely that Crain will throw another side session on Saturday after receiving extensive treatment, and then the White Sox will decide if he goes on the disabled list.
"I'm not hoping so," said Crain, who has not pitched since Friday in Seattle. "I think I can rid of it pretty quick. It's definitely recovered.
"That's a decision not up to me. I understand how it is when you've got guys down in the bullpen, especially after a game like yesterday. Me personally, I don't want to leave them out to dry. That's a decision that's going to be made, but I think it's definitely sooner than later."
Crain has a 2.57 ERA in six games and had recovered without a hitch from a strained right oblique that sidelined him for nine games during Spring Training. But this injury stemmed from a workout, not from mound work.
"I pride myself on being ready every day and working hard to be ready every day," Crain said. "The first one happened in Spring Training.
"All right, I was able to get through it. And then getting through that one and the other side, kind of tweaking, not even throwing, something getting ready for the next day, it happened. It is pretty frustrating."
Third to first
The White Sox fell to 1-4 against the American League East and 6-12 in their last 18 home games, dating back to 2011, following Thursday's 10-3 loss to Boston.
Philip Humber is 0-5 with a 5.72 ERA over his last nine starts at U.S. Cellular Field.
The White Sox are hitting .190 against left-handed pitchers and have stranded 47 baserunners in their last six games.
Dayan Viciedo has homered three times in 16 games this season, after hitting one home run in 2011.