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.
The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.
In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.
Home plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both dugouts. Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t happy about his side having received a warning for no reason, and was ejected by first base umpire Mark Wegner. Hernández would hit Adeiny Hechavarría with a pitch in the fourth inning — seemingly unintentionally — and was not ejected. Other than that, there were no more incidents and cooler heads prevailed.
Acuña finished 1-for-4 in the Braves’ 5-1 win. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs and knocked in four runs.