The Indians are going to give catcher Carlos Santana the Victor Martinez treatment:
Next thing on Santana’s spring-training checklist is learning how to play first base. Eduardo Perez and Mike Hargrove, former first basemen and recently hired by the Indians, will help him in the weeks to come.
Santana — who played third when he was in the Dodgers organization — is expected to play some Cactus League games at first, but there’s no plan to actually give him time at first during the regular season.
At least for now. It would devalue his bat an awful lot to move him from behind the plate — the most valuable defensive position — to first base — the least valuable one. But it’s also the case that (a) Santana’s bat could reasonably carry first base anyway; and (b) he’s not the best catcher the world has ever seen.
I don’t know what the defensive metrics or scouting reports say about him, but I watched him catch several times in Columbus last year, sitting right behind home plate. My sense: he’s kinda shaky. He does little things that make you feel like he’s not comfortable. He stands up out of his squat between pitches more than a lot of guys do. He shifts around and reaches for balls more. Maybe a lot of that is his pitching staff, but he doesn’t seem like a born catcher in any real way apart from his physique.
You give Santana every chance imaginable to catch of course, but teaching him a little first base ain’t the worst idea in the world.
The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud — normally a catcher — borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.
The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.
The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.
Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.