The reality of life as a big league catcher is that the job takes a toll on the player. Indians manager Terry Francona believes that was the main issue during Carlos Santana’s recent slump at the plate.
Santana has shown signs of life in the batter’s box of late for Cleveland, which leans on him as a regular catcher, part-time first baseman and middle-of-the-order hitter. Francona said Santana’s up-and-down showing to this point this season is simply the product of his place on the field.
“Catching catches up with your body,” Francona said. “You lose some of the life in your body. I think that’s just natural. With Carlos, when he was struggling, he was trying to do too much and got a little long at times. Actually, he’s done a lot of his damage when he’s been down in the count, when he stays short, because he’s so strong and so quick.”
Entering Wednesday, the switch-hitting Santana had hit .344 (11-for-32) with a .417 on-base percentage and a .469 slugging percentage over his past nine games. In the previous 29 games, he managed only a .180 average. On the season, Santana was hitting .284 with eight homers, 17 doubles, 27 RBIs, 33 runs and 35 walks through 59 games.
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Entering Monday’s action, Santana was hitting .283 with a .390 on-base percentage, a .489 slugging percentage, eight home runs, 13 doubles, 22 RBIs, 31 walks and 31 runs in 51 games. Among AL catchers, his .879 OPS was second to only Twins backstop Joe Mauer, who led the voting at catcher with 863,450. Santana (547,873) ranked third behind Mauer and Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (715,055).
Other players listed on the All-Star ballot for the Indians include first baseman Nick Swisher, second baseman Jason Kipnis, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, left fielder Michael Brantley, center fielder Michael Bourn and right fielder Drew Stubbs. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall is also listed, but he is currently with Triple-A Columbus.
Like Santana, Reynolds was third in voting at his position. Reynolds had garnered 452,708 votes, but was a distant third behind Boston’s David Ortiz (1,045,283) and Texas’ Lance Berkman (672,547). Reynolds entered Monday hitting .250 with 13 home runs, seven doubles, 30 runs scored and 41 RBIs in 54 games for the Tribe.
Each day Indians manager Terry Francona takes a moment to learn a little Spanish. The truth is there is a much bigger purpose behind his conversations with Carlos Santana.
“I love him,” Francona said of his daily interaction with the 27-year-old catcher. “He helps me every day with a little Spanish. It’s just a way to get to know a guy. He cracks me up with the things he says.”
Santana stands out offensively, which Francona is quick to point out is a bonus with a catcher. First and foremost, a catcher must run a pitching staff and be a solid defender. Santana has grown into that role, but it’s tough not to notice that he’s become an all-around catcher.
Santana entered Wednesday’s game at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies hitting a robust .325 with seven home runs. His .438 on-base percentage is a tribute to his patience at the plate despite a big swing and in 136 plate appearances he’s struck out just 26 times and walked 22.
“I think [defense and handling a staff] is the most important things about being a catcher,” Francona said. “The offense is something everyone sees. That’s a big bonus when you have a catcher that can do what he does offensively.
“He switch hits, he hits for power, he takes walks. He is as a young catcher learning the responsibility of the importance of running a staff. To his credit, he is learning and he’s trying to learn. Sometimes it’s a step forward and one back, but he’s trying really hard and we appreciate that.”
Santana is also a great clubhouse presence and rarely gets angry, with one noted exception.
“The only way to [make him angry] is to tell him he’s not playing,” Francona said. “And I love that.”
5/8/13: Nick Swisher celebrates sixth-inning homers by himself and Carlos Santana by dancing to Apache (Jump On It).
Oh you know, just the best batting average in all of major league baseball.
• Indians closer Chris Perez underwent X-rays on his right thumb after being struck on the hand by a comebacker in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 10-3 win over the Royals. The images came back clean and Perez was confident he could pitch on Monday, if needed.
“I should be good to go,” said Perez, whose thumb was bruised and still a little numb on Monday. “I finished the inning, so I don’t see why I couldn’t go out there.”
• Indians catcher Carlos Santana went 6-for-9 in Sunday’s doubleheader with Kansas City to lift his season batting average to .388, which led the Major Leagues entering Monday. As things currently stand, Santana’s average would be the highest in April for an Indians catcher, surpassing the .387 mark turned in by Sandy Alomar Jr. in 1997.
• Mike Aviles (Game 2 on Sunday), Jason Giambi (April 20) and Mark Reynolds (April 13) have each enjoyed a five-RBI game this season for the Indians. Entering Monday, that marked the most five-RBI efforts by any team in the Majors this season. Detroit (Prince Fielder and Matt Tuiasosopo) is the only other club with at least two five-RBI showings.
• Triple-A Columbus right-hander Trevor Bauer was scratched from his scheduled start against Pawtucket on Monday. The Indians have confirmed that Bauer (1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts at Triple-A this season) will start Wednesday’s game against the Phillies.
• Prior to Monday’s game against the Royals, the Indians optioned left-hander Scott Barnes to Triple-A Columbus. Barnes was promoted from Columbus on Sunday to serve as the 26th man on Cleveland’s roster for the doubleheader against Kansas City.
All-star voting has begun!
- 1B - Swisher, Nick
- 2B - Kipnis, Jason
- SS - Cabrera, Asdrubal
- 3B - Chisenhall, Lonnie
- C - Santana, Carlos
- DH - Reynolds, Mark
- OF - Bourn, Michael
- OF - Brantley, Michael
- OF - Stubbs, Drew
These are the Tribe players in the running per position! Remember to vote everyday - 25 votes per day for guest accounts, 35 for people signed up on mlb.com!
Go, my fellow Tribe fans! Go and vote!
PS. I VOTED 35 TIMES SO NOW I AM CHALLENGING YOU ALL TO DO THE SAME <3