GOODYEAR, ARIZ:. With converted catcher Carlos Santana making his spring training debut at third base Thursday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark, Indians manager Terry Francona has been around baseball long enough to know the way the irony of the game can be.
“I hope nothing crazy happens,” he said before the action got underway. “Knowing baseball, this will be the day when there’s a triple play.”
On this day, however, the hot corner proved to be anything but as Santana logged two uneventful innings in the Indians’ 12-3 rout of the host Reds. He walked in his only at-bat.
In fact, the only action Santana was involved in at third base was being on the receiving end of a relay throw from shortstop Mike Aviles, then executing a swipe tag on Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.
In the second inning, Cozart drove in the game’s first two runs with a double, but was tagged out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
“Carlos is more comfortable over there than people are probably giving him credit for,” Francona said. “He’s pretty at home over there. It’s going to be surprising if he doesn’t handle himself well.”
Tribe ace Justin Masterson was optimistic about more than just his solid inning of work in his first start of the spring Thursday. After allowing a hit with two strikeouts, the big right-hander touched upon on-going contract extension talks with the club.
“I figure somehow, some way, I’ll end up still being here for a few more years,” said Masterson, who signed a one-year, $9.76 million deal with the Indians Feb. 18 to avoid salary arbitration. “… There’s nothing monumental yet, but we’ve talked. As we’ve done so, I imagine that if something gets done, it’d be before the season begins. That’s kind of where we’re at, we still got a few weeks.”
After going hitless in two at-bats as a starter Wednesday, outfielder Nyjer Morgan was active as a reserve Thursday. The self-nicknamed “Tony Plush” went 2-for-3 with a walk, double and two runs scored.
“Nyjer Morgan plays with so much enthusiasm,” Francona said. “The highlight of my day might have been, I think we were up by 11 and he’s backing up third on a ball. I love that. It tells me something. That’s what you’re looking for.”
Home run happy
Indians second baseman Elliot Johnson started the day’s home run theme with a two-run shot to left field off the first pitch he saw, tying the score 2-2 in the fourth inning … An inning later, minor-league cacther Jake Lowery blasted a grand slam to right-center field that gave the Tribe a 7-2 lead. Lowery played at Double-A Akron last year … Outfielder Tyler Naquin, who also finished last season in Akron, joined the home run parade with a two-run shot in the seventh inning.
“Elliot Johnson hit his really good,” Francona said. “But today was a spring training day.
‘‘The ball was carrying all over the place. But luckily for us, our pitchers — for the most part — kept it on the ground. [Offensively], We got some balls up in the wind. It was young guys who got to play and get involved in the game.”
On second thought
A day after sharing his dislike for playing either intrasquad or “B” games, Francona went against his better judgement and agreed to play one anyway. Thus, the Indians are now scheduled to host the Angels in a “B” game at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the team’s complex in Goodyear.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com.