Sergio Santos, closing pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, has been a Raiders fan his entire life. Although he now resides in Bears territory, Santos remains loyal to the Silver and Black. Santos' devotion to the Oakland Raiders motto of Commitment to Excellence is clear, as he maintained a 0.00 ERA in 28 innings pitched with six saves through May 19, 2011. Raiders.com had a chance to ask Santos about being a Raiders fan as well as his experiences in Major League Baseball.
Raiders.com: You were a first round pick out of high school as a shortstop in 2002, but after many years, transitioned to pitching. What's that been like for you?
Santos: So far so good. Within one year of changing positions, I was able to make the big leagues and had some success up here so that's kind of a little not the way I wrote it up, but I'll take it without a doubt.
Raiders.com: How were you able to make that change and be successful?
Santos: A lot of it is just being blessed. I feel very fortunate that I was given this opportunity and been able to take advantage of it. Luckily I was blessed with a good arm, which helps out and just being able to get a really good feel for off-speed pitching. That put me over the edge and it's the main reason for my success.
Raiders.com: Can you talk a little bit about playing for Manager Ozzie Guillen?
Santos: Ozzie is a very passionate person. He doesn't get mad at you for being aggressive. The only thing he asks is to not be afraid of any situation – to go out and not be afraid and not be afraid to make mistakes. He can get a little animated and he's definitely a little crazy, I think, but it works.
Raiders.com: The coach or manager is a really important piece of any organization. Our new head coach Hue Jackson talks a lot about chasing perfection. Through Thursday, May 19, 2011, you have managed to maintain a 0.00 ERA and record six saves. How do you relate to Coach Jackson's message?
Santos: What I try doing is block everything out and focus on the job. For me, it's pitch to pitch. I try to perfect my pitch, hit my spot. Like in football, they should take it play by play. If one play is gone, whether it's good or bad, you can't change the past, so you look forward and go on to the next play and focus all your energy on making that play successful or making that pitch successful.
Raiders.com: How and when did you become a Raiders fan?
Santos: I was a Raiders fan just because they played in the Coliseum in L.A. and that's where I grew up so I was a huge Raider fan, more than the Rams when they were both there. I did the Punt, Pass, and Kick so I got to do that when it was at the Coliseum and winning that and rocking my Jeff Hostetler jersey was such an exciting time for me.
Raiders.com: What is your favorite Raiders moment?
Santos: My personal moment would obviously be being on the field with the guys with the Punt, Pass, and Kick and seeing that and seeing everything up close. My worst moment was when it was a fumble on Tom Brady when Charles Woodson hit him and it was called an incomplete pass when it was an absolute fumble.
Raiders.com: Who is your favorite Raiders player?
Santos: There's a couple there. I have my throwback Marcus Allen jersey – he's one of my heroes. Obviously, Bo Jackson – Bo knows best.
Raiders.com: For you being in Chicago, what's it like being in hostile Bears territory as a Raiders fan?
Santos: It's tough. You have to hide your true colors a little bit. Obviously, you want your city to do well, but deep down inside I'm always pulling for the Raiders and rooting for them so I have that Commitment to Excellence imbedded in me.
Raiders.com: Are you able to watch any of the games while you're in Chicago?
Santos: Yes, I can. I'll watch them and see how they're doing. Last year was obviously a much improvement which was good. I think we have the foundation, it's just a matter of putting the pieces together and I definitely see them making playoffs soon.
Raiders.com: What are you most excited about for the 2011 Raiders season?
Santos: Just being excited from what I saw last year, and hopefully, with [Darren] McFadden and everybody, we can get something going. Like I said, the pieces are there. It's just a matter of putting it together and as soon as they can do that, there's no doubt that they can be in the playoffs.