Feb 18, 2011, 11:50 AM EDT
Next thing on Santana’s spring-training checklist is learning how to play first base. Eduardo Perez and Mike Hargrove, former first basemen and recently hired by the Indians, will help him in the weeks to come.
Santana — who played third when he was in the Dodgers organization — is expected to play some Cactus League games at first, but there’s no plan to actually give him time at first during the regular season.
At least for now. It would devalue his bat an awful lot to move him from behind the plate — the most valuable defensive position — to first base — the least valuable one. But it’s also the case that (a) Santana’s bat could reasonably carry first base anyway; and (b) he’s not the best catcher the world has ever seen.
I don’t know what the defensive metrics or scouting reports say about him, but I watched him catch several times in Columbus last year, sitting right behind home plate. My sense: he’s kinda shaky. He does little things that make you feel like he’s not comfortable. He stands up out of his squat between pitches more than a lot of guys do. He shifts around and reaches for balls more. Maybe a lot of that is his pitching staff, but he doesn’t seem like a born catcher in any real way apart from his physique.
You give Santana every chance imaginable to catch of course, but teaching him a little first base ain’t the worst idea in the world.
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