Santiago seeing steady improvement this season

Santiago seeing steady improvement this season

PITTSBURGH -- Manager Jim Leyland said before Saturday's game that Ramon Santiago has stabilized second base to some degree.

Santiago, whose average has risen with each month of 2012, has gone 14-for-49 with two homers, a double and 10 RBIs over his last 16 games.

"Santi's doing a good job for us, no question about it -- offensively and defensively," Leyland said. "He's made some real big plays in the last week or so."

Leyland acknowledged that it's possible Santiago's slow start could be blamed on the infielder's decision not to play in the Dominican Winter League.

"I don't know that to be a fact for sure, but possibly," Leyland said. "It helps keep some guys sharp."

With Santiago in the lineup against the Pirates on Saturday, Ryan Raburn will be forced to watch another game from the bench. In 16 June at-bats, Raburn has five hits and one RBI.

Leyland said that Raburn will start Sunday's series finale.

"I actually think Raburn is swinging pretty good right now," Leyland said. "He hit three balls on the button the other day. If he gets hot, obviously, the more he'll play."