If their latest action is any indication, the Indians’ decision to have catcher Carlos Santana work out at third base wasn’t just made on a whim. As Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer reports, the Indians have sent infield coach Mike Sarbaugh down to the Dominican Republic to help Santana as he plays in winter ball. GM Chris Antonetti says that reports have been encouraging.
“It’s still very early in the process,” said GM Chris Antonetti. “Sarbie has been down there for a few days with Carlos. He’s made a couple of errors, but so far the reports have been encouraging.
“He made two errors in one game, but he also made a nice diving play.”
The Indians will have a better feel for the situation when Sarbaugh returns to Cleveland and gives them his report.
The Indians needed to make room behind the dish for Yan Gomes after his breakout season in 2013, and with Nick Swisher at first base, Santana volunteered to work out at third base, effectively pushing Lonnie Chisenhall down on the depth chart. If the experiment at third base doesn’t work out, the Indians shouldn’t have any issues making Santana their full-time DH.
Santana last played third base in 2008, one game with the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate Inland Empire. Prior to that, he had played five games at third with Single-A Great Lakes in 2007, and 38 games combined in 2006 with Single-A Vero Beach and Ogden.
Retired big league pitcher Barry Zito has a memoir coming out. Much of it will likely track the usual course of an athlete’s memoir. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and a few fun and/or sad and/or thoughtful anecdotes along the way. One bit of it, though, is not the stuff of the usual athlete memoir.
He writes that he ctually rooted against the San Francisco Giants — his own team — in the 2010 World Series. He did so because he was left off the postseason roster, felt miserable about it and let his ego consume him. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It was really hard to admit . . . I rooted against the team because my ego was in full control and if we lost then I could get out of there . . . It would a) prove they couldn’t do it without me, and b) take me out of the situation because I was so miserable coming to the field every day. I was so deep in shame. I wanted out of that situation so bad.”
Zito at that point was midway through a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Giants after the 2006 season. Almost as soon as he signed it he transformed from one of the better pitchers in the game — he had a 124 ERA+ in eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and won the 2002 Cy Young Award — to being a liability for the Giants. Indeed, he only had one season in San Francisco where, again, by ERA+, he was a league-average starter or better. In 2010 he went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and was way worse than that down the stretch. It made perfect sense for the Giants to leave him off the 2010 postseason roster. And, of course, it worked out for them.
Things would improve. He’d still generally struggle as a Giant, but in 2012 he was a hero of the NLCS, pitching the Giants past the Cardinals in a must-win game. He then got the Game 1 start in the World Series and beat Justin Verlander as the Giants won that game and then swept the Tigers out of the series. As time went on he’d fine more personal happiness as well. When his contract ended following the 2013 season Zito took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Giants fans for their support. He’d leave the game in 2014 and pitch three more games for the Athletics in 2015 before retiring for good.
Not many baseball memoirs deliver hard truths like Zito’s appears willing to do. That’s pretty damn brave of him. And pretty damn admirable.