For most of spring training reports from Indians camp suggested that Carlos Santana was struggling with his attempted transition from catcher to third base, but apparently manager Terry Francona disagreed with those assessments.
Francona just told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that Santana will be the Indians’ primary third base, which means last year’s primary third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s role is likely diminished and very much in flux. Or as Francona put it: “I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to play itself out.”
Santana has never played a game at third base in the majors and last played there as a minor leaguer way back in 2008 at Single-A, but the Indians decided they’d rather have Yan Gomes behind the plate and wanted to avoid moving Santana to designated hitter. Santana as a DH seemingly would have been an easy choice, especially considering they didn’t add another big bat for the DH spot after instead shifting him to third base, but Francona and company clearly believe he’s capable of being decent defensively.
Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius had another fantastic night last night. He went 3-for-3, hitting a home run for the fourth game in a row, had an RBI single and reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances in New York’s 7-4 win over Minnesota.
For the year that gives Gregorius a line of .372/.470/.833, putting him atop the American League in average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. He also leads the league in total bases (65) and RBI (29). He leads all of baseball in fWAR at 2.2, edging out Mike Trout despite the fact that Trout has played in two more games. He’s second behind Trout in homers with nine.
After last night’s game he insisted that he is not a home run hitter:
“I do have a lot of home runs, but it’s not like I am going out there to try to hit them . . . I’m not a power guy like Judge and Stanton, who hit 50 to 60 and up. Those are the guys who actually hit home runs. One year, let’s say, I hit five — then you ask me where that part went . . . if they go out, they go out. I’m just mostly trying to barrel it up and get a good swing . . . I try to hit line drives and if you check most of my home runs they were line drives,” he said. “It’s not like I am going up to hit deep fly balls.”
Given that he hit 25 homers last year and 20 the year before, he’s being a bit modest, even if he’s not likely to keep up this torrid pace. That modesty is not stopping some people from getting a bit carried away, of course:
We’ll forgive Bob for the hyperbole. Didi has been fun to watch.