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Carlos Santana is going to get some reps at first base for the Indians

Feb 18, 2011, 11:50 AM EDT

Tigers Indians Baseball

The Indians are going to give catcher Carlos Santana the Victor Martinez treatment:

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.

  1. ngearhart1981 - Feb 18, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    If his glove is solid, and it’s just a case of the yips, they should try him at 3rd.

  2. Lukehart80 - Feb 18, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Why don’t they just ask the Yankees what position they’re going to be looking to fill in 2014 and have him work on that?

    I certainly hope he can stick at catcher (though as Craig mentions, having him learn 1B wouldn’t be the worst idea), the Indians are going to have to maximize the value of as many players as they can if they’re going to compete again in the near future, that means keeping Santana behind the plate for as many games as he can handle there.

  3. baseballisboring - Feb 18, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    I hope he can stick behind the plate. He’ll be an especially exciting player to watch if he does. But he can mash either way.

  4. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 18, 2011 at 4:51 PM

    Maybe they just don’t want to lose his bat on his days off…DH isn’t a great option since they are still paying Pronk eleventy bazillion dollars in 2011, and sitting him would also deplete the offense.

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