Hector Santiago: Signed-jersey collector …

Juan Uribe, Hector SantiagoJust as Hector Santiago was lacing up his spikes to take the mound for his Dodger Stadium start on Tuesday night, one of the Dodgers’ clubhouse attendants came over with a jersey, signed by his ensuing opponent, Clayton Kershaw, just as the Angels’ left-hander had requested.

Awkward.

“Yeah,” Santiago said, smiling. “No doubt.”

But Santiago can’t help himself. He’s an avid collector of signed baseball jerseys, with a multitude of opportunities as a Major League player. In his new Arizona home is a two-car garage he turned into his own, personal man cave, with the entire wall space taken up by about 30 signed jerseys. Fifteen more are framed in his personal gymnasium, and several others are scattered in his closet.

How many does he have?

“Whew,” Santiago said. “I’m gonna go with … 150? Right around there.”

The Kershaw-signed jersey was sent along with ones from Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Mark McGwire, joining several recent ones that will be framed soon (Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Billy Williams, Rollie Fingers and Hank Aaron, which Santiago was already offered $4,500 for but will not sell).

“I’m doing pretty good,” Santiago said.

The 26-year-old thought of sending Kershaw his own autographed jersey, even though the Dodgers’ ace didn’t really ask for it, in the hopes that Kershaw would “give me a meatball” when he came to bat.

“But no, he wants to paint fastballs on the black to me,” Santiago said after going 0-for-1 with a sac bunt at the plate, and giving up four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings of the Angels’ 5-4 walk-off loss.

Santiago never got the chance to thank Kershaw, but he’ll try to on Wednesday.

“Maybe I’ll send him my signed broken bat.”

Alden

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