Santana expects to play third base for the Indians in 2014

Jason Miller

Carlos Santana says he is now mentally and physically prepared to play third base.

Carlos Santana is preparing to play third base for the Indians, according to an interview with Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish). Loosely translated*, Santana says 'I am getting ready to play third base, no other position. Those are the plans of the team.'

*Single quotation marks in this post signify a translation from Spanish, and may not be perfect, on account of my own Spanish being pretty far from perfect.

Santana also says that the Indians approached him about playing third base, and that it took him a month to agree to it. Santana has been playing in the Dominican Winter League for more than a month now, and after making 3 errors in his first 5 games, he's made 5 errors in his last 18 games. That's still a high rate (and simply counting errors is not the best way to assess one's defense), but it does seem to show he's been improving.

The Indians are taking the experiment seriously, as they sent infield coach Mike Sarbaugh down to help Santana with the transition. The team's Director of Operations in Latin America Ramon Pena says 'At first he looked lost, but now no one would believe he is a new player at the position*'

*Technically, Santana is not new to the position, as he played it a bit as a Dodgers farmhand, most of his 58 games at the position coming in 2006 at Single-A.

Santana's Dominican League manager, Audo VIncente adds, 'The progress we've seen from Carlos, especially in the last two weeks, has been impressive... He has been putting in extra work, looking for information on where to play, asking many questions.'

Santana says 'I think I can play third base in MLB. Cleveland has the last word, but mentally and physically I am preparing to play third base.'

More on the Indians infield

I don't think this means Santana expects to be the Indians' fulltime third baseman, but I do think he sees himself as more than just an emergency option. I was dismissive of Santana playing third base when I first heard about it, but I now believe he's in a position to semi-platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall, allowing the Tribe to sit Lonnie when facing a lefty (against whom he has struggled mightily). Santana still has catcher's gear and a first baseman's glove, and I'm sure he knows he'll be the team's DH oftentimes, but it's clear he wants the opportunity to play third base.

Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti recently told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, "The most important thing is that he's working hard at it. He's committed to being the best player he can be at the position, which is great. That's all we're looking for at this point. We're months away from having to make any sort of evaluations or decisions."

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