10 Final thoughts from the Indians 12-3 victory over the host Cincinnati Reds in the second game of Cactus League play Thursday at Goodyear Ballpark.
1) Carlos Santana made his Cactus League debut at third base, but it ended up being an uneventful two innings at the so-called hot corner. The only activity the converted catcher saw was being on the receiving end of a relay throw from shortstop Mike Aviles and tagging out Red’s shortstop Zack Cozart trying to stretch his double into a triple.
“Carlos is more comfortable over there than people are probably giving him credit for,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s pretty at home over there. It’s going to be surprising if he doesn’t handle himself well.”
2) Little by little, Francona sounds like he believes Santana’s conversion is legitimate. But at the same time, he often feels the need to remind the media that Lonnie Chisenhall is also in this competition. It’s one of the reasons the players love Francona, every single one of them believes he’s got their back and is fair. But the fact remains that Chisenhall has a minor league option remaining – and I wouldn’t be surprised if that eventually comes into play.
3) In his first spring start, Justin Masterson threw only fastballs in his one inning of work – allowing a hit and striking out two. A sinkerball pitcher, Masterson said he’d begin to mix in sliders in his next start, slated for Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.
4) Even more worth noting, however, is that Masterson made it known he’s optimistic he and the Indians will come to an agreement on a long-term deal by the time camp ends. While it’s hard to envision the Indians brass giving the big right-hander a deal like the Reds gave Homer Bailey (six-years, $105 million), I could see them settling on a three-year deal for a little over that.
5) Right-hander Carlos Carrascowas impressive in two hitles innings, not only his stuff, but his composure – and that may be as key as anything for him this spring.
To the first hitter, the left, he kind of left some balls up to the arm side,” Francona said. “But then he made an adjustment, worked ahead and was really good.”
An ability to make adjustments in the same inning is due to maintaining an aggressive mind set and a revamped delivery, a combination Carrasco will need to land the fifth spot in the rotation. Heading to the bullpen is always option, but not the preferred one
“It’s only two innings, but he looks comfortable (with his adjusted delivery) and I do think it’s going to help the deception there,” Francona said. “His stuff was really good.”
6) Carrasco will make the team regardless, as he’s out of minor league options. But it gives the Indians more flexibility if Carrasco makes the team as a starter, because they can carry an extra reliever.
7) Unlike Carrasco, right-hander Corey Kluber struggled Thursday, giving up two runs on two hits in the second inning.
“Klubs hit the first hitter and then after that a couple pitches wandered over the middle,” Francona said.
It’s just one outing – the first, even - so there’s no need for panic. But Kluber has already been handed a starting job based on last year’s performance.
8) My gut tells me Elliot Johnsonis a long shot to make the Indians roster out of camp, but the fact that he’s switch hitter who can play all over the place (all three outfield spots, second base, shortstop and third base) makes him appealing.
Francona gushed about Johnson’s two-run home run Thursday, and loves such versatile guys. But whether there’s room for even a super utility guy on the roster like Johnson depends a lot on what happens at third base.
9) Youngsters Erik Gonzalez (shortstop) and Tyler Naquin (outfielder) have caught the eye of Francona.
“(Gonzalez is) a good, improving player,” Francona said of the kid who has a hit in each of the Tribe’s first two games. “He’s rangy, wiry and is going to be fun to see how good he can get.”
10) Naquin, who finished last season in Akron, also joined the home run parade with a two-run shot in the seventh inning.
“I’d put him in the class with Gonzalez,” Francona said of Naquin. “He’s a good young player, whose career is front of him. And it’s going to be fun to see what he turns into. He’s a really good outfielder, good throwing arm. We don’t know what he’s going to be as a hitter, but it’ll be fin to watch him.”