Indians Catcher Carlos Santana To Play Winter Ball At Third Base
Over the past two months of the 2013 season the Cleveland Indians made Yan Gomes their primary catcher moving Carlos Santana to first base or designated hitter. When the season came to an end Santana was told by manager Terry Francona that Gomes would be the teams primary catcher in 2014.
Third base is not a foreign position to Santana who logged 58 games while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system between 2005 to 2008.
In the first inning of his first game with Leones a groundball was sent to him off the bat of Juan Perez. Santana was unable to field it cleanly and threw wildly to first allowing both Danny Santana to move to third and Perez to second resulting in two errors on the play.
According to Tony Lastoria of IndiansBaseballInsider.com: Although Santana was not involved in much after the first inning he did make a nice play on a groundball in the ninth inning.
The decision as to whether or not the third base experiment will continue into spring training will be decided later. A lot of the decision will depend on how Santana feels. The Indians will send coach Mike Sarbaugh to the Dominican to meet with Santana around the Christmas Holiday.
The Indians will benefit from having Santana increase his versatility. Last year he started 81 games at catcher and 24 games at first base and 47 as the teams DH.
Santana will still remain as the Indians backup catcher but how many games he catches has yet to be determined. Francona isn’t concerned that less time catching will impact his bat, “I think as long as we keep Carlos’s bat in the lineup, he’s that hitter, a switch hitter who will amazingly take a walk because with the violence of that swing I don’t know how he does it but he does. And with two strikes he can shorten up and put the ball in play and he can hit good pitching so we need to keep his bat in the lineup.”
His versatility helps the Indians and Francona hopes that Santana realizes this, “I don’t think he understands his value to us with his versatility, how valuable it is, that it helps us immensely.”