Before Carlos Santana broke into the major leagues with the Indians in 2010 as a catcher, he was a young third base prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s been seven years since he last manned the hot corner, back in A-ball during the 2006 season. But Santana brought up the possibility of returning there to the Tribe’s brass in an attempt to maintain his versatility moving forward.
While meeting with a handful of local media at Progressive Field Friday afternoon, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti admitted Santana at third is an option currently being considered for next season.
“It could be, we’ll see,” said Antonetti, who touched on a variety of team-related topics Friday afternoon before heading to MLB’s Winter Meetings in Orlando. “Carlos really is passionate about wanting to find a way to impact the team - anyway he can.
“…Carlos took it upon himself to say, ‘hey, I’ll not only catch, but if I can be serviceable at third base, it gives Tito (Tribe manager Terry Francona) potentially another option. So, to his credit, he’s down there at the complex, taking ground balls there and now he’ll progress into games in winter ball for an undetermined amount of time, but at least for a month.’’
Santana recognized the need to add even more versatility to his resume after Yan Gomes took over as the Tribe’s every day catcher last season. And with Nick Swisher splitting time between the outfield and first base, he too limits Santana’s infield options.
Reluctant to become primarily a designated hitter at age 27, Santana hopes that with practice, he can become legitimate competition to struggling third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall when the season begins March 31. Thus, the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder has spent the off season reacquainting himself with third base, which he’ll begin playing at in winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.
“We’ll have more information as he’s out there playing more,” Antonetti said. “The benefit is he’s played there before, so he has experience. But most importantly, it’s something Carlos wants to do and he’s working at it. If he continues to do that – he’s athletic, he had good hands, a phenomenal arm – I think it’s just him getting reacclimated to the position.”