There was a healthy dose of skepticism when it was reported in November that Carlos Santana was working out at third base, but it sounds like a position switch could actually happen.
In a story (link in Spanish) by Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Santana said that he’s “getting ready to play third base, no other position” and that “those are the plans of the team.”
The experiment is clearly a priority, as the Indians sent infield coach and third base coach Mike Sarbaugh down to the Dominican Republic to help Santana with the transition while he was playing in winter ball. While there have naturally been some struggles, the reviews have been mostly positive. However, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti recently told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that the club will wait before making a final decision on his role for 2014.
“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.”
Santana played some third base early on in his pro career as a farmhand with the Dodgers, but he hasn’t done so since 2008 when he was in High-A ball. While the position switch is a bold idea, it’s easy to see the benefits of the experiment, as Yan Gomes could take over as the full-time catcher in 2014. If Santana can’t cut it at third, he’ll likely split time between catcher, first base and DH like he did last season. The Indians still have Lonnie Chisenhall as a fallback possibility at third base, but he has been a disappointment so far in the major leagues.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.