By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Charter Oak High School junior Travis Santiago may have a big decision to make this summer. The same kind of decision that Bishop Amat’s Jay Anderson made, opting to skip his senior season on the Lancers’ football team in order to concentrate on baseball, a sport he felt was his best opportunity of earning an athletic scholarship.
Amat junior infielder Rio Ruiz’s future is in baseball too, where he could become a 2012 Major League draft first-round pick, or opt to go to USC, where he has given a verbal commitment since his freshman year. Despite the risks, Ruiz, a quarterback on the Lancers’ football team, intends on playing football his senior year.
Santiago’s case is different, according to Charter Oak baseball coach Tom Quinley, because he’s a quarterback and pitcher. Santiago, 6-foot and 175 pounds, is one of the area’s best quarterbacks, but Quinley feels all the throwing he did during the summer and fall with the Chargers’ football team likely contributed to the sore right elbow that has kept him from pitching this season.
“That’s what the doctors say,” Quinley said of Santiago’s sore elbow. “When you throw around 75 passes in (football) practice with no caretaking to it, it takes its toll. That’s a decision (playing quarterback) he’s going to have to make. He’s a great kid and an incredible athlete. But if he wants to pitch next year, chances are he will have to make that decision.” (to continue click thread)
Like Anderson and Ruiz, Santiago is a great football player, but his future is likely in baseball.
And the Chargers have missed him, hovering at 8-7 overall and third place in the Sierra League at 4-2.
“We thought he (Santiago) would be a ten-game winner for us,” Quinley said.
Quinley felt that way because Santiago had a phenomenal sophomore season pitching and hitting for the Chargers. In fact, he was rated by MaxPreps one of the top sophomore pitchers in the state after going 8-1 with a 1.01 ERA. He also was a force offensively, batting. 370 with 26 runs scored.
But then again, he’s been the starting quarterback since he was a sophomore too, and a very good one. This past season he threw for 2,418 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“He loves football,” Quinley said. “You probably shouldn’t play quarterback if you’re going to pitch, but that’s up to him.”
Quinley said Santiago’s sore elbow is improving and he threw his first bullpen session earlier this week.
He has played in 10 of the Chargers’ 15 games, but has been limited at shortstop and is batting .273 with just two RBIs.
“Just throwing the ball and making routine plays have been tough on him at times,” Quinley said. “But he’s getting better.”
If Santiago does return on the hill, it will likely be in a closing role.
“You just have to be careful,” Quinley said. “I’m not going to hurt a kid who has a possible future.
“He’s been bugging us to throw a bullpen and we finally gave in. He will probably get in some more work on Saturday or Monday, and we will take it from there.
“I know he’s anxious to get back and contribute (on the mound) because he’s such a competitor. But we have to see how it goes.”