CLEVELAND -- One week is hardly enough time to feel comfortable with a mechanical change at the plate. That is especially true in the case of Indians catcher Carlos Santana, who is trying to break free from a technique he used for five years.
Over the past week, Santana has rid himself of the toe tap that he used to do right before the leg kick that initiates his swing. Now, the catcher goes right into the kick, eliminating excess movement and making his swing a little bit quicker.
"I know it's going to be a process," Santana said on Tuesday. "I'm getting more comfortable with it and I'm not thinking about it up there. I'm only thinking see the ball, hit the ball. It'll get better with every game."
Entering Tuesday's game against the Twins, Santana had hit .292 (7-for-24) with three doubles, two RBIs and five walks in his first seven games without the toe-tap timing mechanism. Throughout that same stretch, the catcher posted a .400 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging.
It is undoubtedly a small sample size, but it is also a sign of progress.
Overall this season, Santana was hitting .224 with six home runs, 10 doubles and 24 RBIs through 54 games for the Indians. He also had a .357 on-base to go along with a .377 slugging. What those numbers do not show is that Santana has had a bad habit of pulling the ball too much this season.
Indians manager Manny Acta said the catcher is also working on that issue.
"That's how I've seen it," Acta said. "It has taken him time to make adjustments. He first came up and swung the bat really well. His on-base percentage is always going to be there, because he has such great eyes at the plate, but it's about making adjustments.
"It's about knowing that he's not going to be getting those cookies right there at 2-0 and they're not going to just be feeding him middle-in fastballs, and being able to use the whole field. It's taken him time to do that.
"He's going to have to realize that and use the whole field in order to have the pitchers come in to him again. I think every hitter goes through that up here. He's going through it. I think he's good enough that eventually he'll hit his way out of it."