Santana returns to camp after enjoying Classic

Indians slugger will split time at first base with Encarnacion

Santana returns to camp after enjoying Classic

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The music that blared from from the back corner of the Indians' clubhouse on Monday morning made it clear: Carlos Santana was back from the World Baseball Classic.

Santana sat at his locker, engaged in an animated conversation with Edwin Encarnacion, who became good friends with the Tribe's first baseman during the 2013 Classic. This year, Encarnacion remained in camp to get to know his new team, while Santana suited up for the Dominican Republic with the hope of defending his homeland's World Baseball Classic championship.

The D.R. was ousted from the tournament on Saturday with a 6-3 loss to Team USA, which advanced to the semifinals in Los Angeles, along with Puerto Rico, Japan and the Netherlands.

"I had a very good time in the [World Baseball Classic]. I had fun," Santana said. "I wanted to go to LA, but this happens with baseball. We lost, but I'll come back here and be happy, too."

With Santana back in camp, Cleveland can again balance the playing time at first base between him and Encarnacion. Indians manager Terry Francona indicated earlier this spring that Santana will be the primary first baseman this season, and the skipper noted on Monday morning that the 30-year-old will return to the Indians' starting lineup on Wednesday against the Rockies.

Cleveland is still awaiting the return of shortstop Francisco Lindor, catcher Roberto Perez and reliever Joseph Colon -- all playing for Puerto Rico -- as well as lefty Andrew Miller -- Team USA. The tournament is scheduled to come to a close on Wednesday.

In six games for the Dominican Republic, Santana hit .308 (8-for-26), while manning first base. He also made a handful of solid defensive plays, but none stood out more than the gem that punctuated an incredible throw from third baseman Manny Machado on Friday.

In the sixth against Venezuela, Machado ranged deep into foul territory to snare a grounder from Miguel Cabrera, and fired across the diamond to nab the runner. Santana had to reach for the ball and tagged first base with his glove after diving back to the bag. After recording the out, Santana pounded the base emphatically with his right hand.

"He's great," Santana said of Machado. "There was a lot of emotions that you saw over there when I caught it. There was emotion, energy. I know Machado is a great player and I was confident I'd make a good pick for the out. I'm very proud and excited about that play."

Santana cited the D.R.'s game against Team USA in the first round as his favorite moment of the tournament. He quipped that Miami felt like "the capital of the Dominican," given how many fans were there loudly supporting his country's team.

"It was very special," Santana said. "I want to play again."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.