He was hitting .317 with nine homers in mid-June when he was hit by a pitch thrown by San Francisco's Jeff Brantley. During the two months he spent with his left arm in a cast, the Padres nose-dived from seven games behind Cincinnati in the National League West to 12½ games out, and in Santiago's absence opposing teams stole 53 bases in 74 attempts. Santiago returned to the lineup in August but hit just .215 the rest of the way.
In the off-season, there have been new concerns. Luis Gonzalez, whom Santiago calls "my older brother," is in the U.S. Army and has been in Saudi Arabia since October. "I'm worried about him," says Santiago. "I've been watching the news a lot, but sometimes I can't watch. I have to get away."
Santiago has had other travails closer to home. On Christmas Eve, he and his family were returning from a wedding party at a friend's home in Coronado, one of San Diego's most exclusive residential districts. Santiago led the way in a Porsche, and his "sister" Eneida—a Gonzalez daughter—followed in her Toyota. She was pulled over by police for what they described as erratic driving. Santiago went back to explain to the police that Eneida spoke no English.
"Here's Benny, a Puerto Rican in a three-quarter-length leather coat and a white Porsche," says Boras, "so you know what the police were thinking." According to Santiago, when he reached for Bennybeth, who was in the Toyota and crying, the police knocked him to the ground and put a knee in his back, then arrested and handcuffed him for obstructing an officer and on suspicion of drunken driving.
Santiago was taken into custody and held in a jail cell until 5:30 on Christmas morning. It was one of those stories that caused people to cluck disapprovingly when they heard it on the news. When all charges against Santiago were quietly dropped four weeks later, there was little notice paid by the media. "How am I supposed to feel about that?" Santiago asks. "When you have problems like that, it's like you lost everything. Sometimes I feel like I want to be out of here. But wherever you go it's going to be the same. In Puerto Rico they dumped me big-time in the papers about this. San Diego is my home now; and I want to stay. I feel good here. And I have a nice house."
That is the place where the rainbow ends, and Benito Santiago appears ready to go inside.