Last year at this time, Carlos Santana’s future with the Indians was starting to be questioned.
He was struggling at the plate, his catching hadn’t risen from the level it reached in 2011, and manager Manny Acta, solidly in his corner, was trying to persuade Santana to abandon the leg lift on his swing.
It seemed liked a worthy goal at the time. Santana’s swing had too much built-in movement, and the leg lift was a big part of it. But Santana couldn’t adjust, and his average and run production numbers suffered.
This season, Santana is leading the team in batting average and walks, tied for the lead in doubles and runs and is second in total bases and home runs.
Santana is lifting his leg as he pleases, and nobody asks him to stop.
“I don’t care about it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I want to stay out of it. That’s why we have coaches. Ty [hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo] is a gym rat. I never see him. He’s down there [batting cages] all day with these guys. Not everybody’s hot all the time, but Ty takes it so personally, and I mean that in a good way.”
So Van Burkleo is dealing with Santana and his swing, apparently with success, but what about his catching?
“To his credit, Carlos is learning and trying to learn more,” Francona said. “Sometimes you take two steps forward and one step back, but he’s trying very hard.
“He’s really a very likable kid. The only way to make him mad is to tell him he’s not playing.”
On the move
Nick Hagadone has been optioned back to Triple-A Columbus again, probably to make room for Vinnie Pestano, who has been on the disabled list with a sore elbow.
Hagadone hasn’t done anything to merit constantly being shipped from Triple-A to the big leagues and back again, but he happens to have an option the club can use when it needs a roster spot.
Pitcher Corey Kluber caused quite a stir among his teammates and Francona when he launched a drive to left in his first at-bat as a big-leaguer Wednesday in Philadelphia. The ball was caught but that didn’t matter.
“We were stunned,” Francona said. “He looked like a hitter. Most pitchers tell you they can hit, but he looks like he can.”
Pitchers take batting practice for a couple of weeks before the Tribe plays at a National League venue, but there’s much more bunting than swinging away.
Does Francona watch?
“No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested,” he said. “That’s Ty’s area.”
As Mark Reynolds said, “All of his at-bats looked like he’s been hitting for years.”
Wahoo Club to meet
Drew Stubbs will be the special guest at the next Wahoo Club Luncheon on June 15 at the Terrace Club starting at 11 a.m. For more information, call Bob Rosen at 440-724-8350 or visit www.wahooclub.com.
In taking three of four in their abbreviated season series with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Indians outscored them 32-12 and outhit them 49-26. ... Jason Kipnis has 12 extra-base hits in his past 13 games. ... Reynolds is 8-for-16 with 10 RBI with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Lonnie Chisenhall homered, singled and drove in one run, Jeremy Hermida drove in three runs and homered, and Cord Phelps went deep, as Columbus beat Syracuse 10-7 in Class AAA. ... Tyler Naquin and Jerrud Sabourin each had two hits in Carolina’s 5-4 loss to Salem in Class A. ... Erik Gonzalez and Anthony Santander each had three hits and one RBI in Lake County’s 13-4 win over Lansing. Claudio Bautista hit a grand slam in Class A.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.