CLEVELAND -- Carlos Santana and Travis Buck stood near first base on Saturday afternoon, listing to instructions from Indians manager Manny Acta and third-base coach Steve Smith. It was a crash course in defensive techniques.
With first baseman Matt LaPorta placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle on Saturday, Santana and Buck become the top alternatives to man the position in his absence. Acta indicated that Santana, Cleveland's regular catcher, will now see the bulk of his playing time at first.
"I'm not saying that Carlos is going to be playing there every single day," Acta said. "But for the majority of games, he's going to play at first base."
On days when Santana plays first base, catcher Lou Marson will be behind the plate for Cleveland. That was the alignment for Saturday's game against the Pirates and, despite only having two catchers on the big league roster, it will likely be the most frequent combination until LaPorta returns.
Up to this point this season, Santana has served as the Tribe's No. 1 catcher and the backup at first to LaPorta, who is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks. Buck, on the other hand, has no Major League experience as a first baseman. He has, however, played some first base this season with Triple-A Columbus.
The Indians also gave Buck a few innings at first base during Spring Training.
"It could be a little bit," said Buck, when asked how much first base he expects to play. "It could be a lot. It could be none. I've kind of positioned myself where I'm more versatile now than I have been in the past.
"Obviously, the more positions I can play, the better off I'm going to be and the more I'll help this team. Whatever it takes, if I'm over there a lot or not at all, I'm going to be ready at any time."
Acta also noted that third baseman Jack Hannahan is a third option for first base, though the manager would likely prefer to keep his steady glove at the hot corner. In the event that Hannahan does move across the diamond to play first, Adam Everett and Orlando Cabrera could assist the Tribe at third base, too.
"He's valuable wherever they hit a ground ball or throw a ball," Acta said of Hannahan. "We certainly don't want to move Jack the way he's going, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do."