GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians manager Manny Acta does not view Casey Kotchman as a platoon player. On Monday, he made it clear that Cleveland added Kotchman to the fold to serve as the everyday first baseman.
That fact could mean that catcher Carlos Santana will see more time as a designated hitter this year.
"You do have a first baseman now," Acta said. "What it does is -- probably this year more times than in the past -- we're going to have to take a chance and probably DH Santana, and take the chance that, if [backup catcher Lou Marson] goes down during the game, that we lose the DH."
The situation is such that the Indians want to keep Santana's bat in the lineup as much as possible. That means that, on days he is not catching, the switch-hitter could either work as a first baseman or a DH. It is most likely that those starts would come against left-handed pitching.
Cleveland wants to feature Marson against lefties, considering the catcher hit .297 against southpaws last season. Santana, who belted a team-high 27 homers last season, hit .318 against lefties in 2011. The left-handed-hitting Kotchman handled both righties (.313) and lefties (.289) well last season.
Overall, Kotchman hit .306 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 146 games for the Rays last season. The Indians signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract this offseason.
If Santana does see more time in the DH role, that would mean more days off for left-handed DH Travis Hafner.
Last year, Hafner hit .233 against lefties, compared to .302 against righties. Over the past three years combined, the DH has hit .240 with a .298 on-base percentage and a .382 slugging percentage against left-handers. In that same period against righties, Hafner hit .290/.387/.483.
All of these numbers come into play due to one simple revelation.
"Kotchman comes in and he's our first baseman," Acta said. "He had a good season and he's a guy that we see as a very important part of our club."