OAKLAND -- The Indians love what Carlos Santana brings as a cleanup hitter, but the club is doing all it can to make the catcher a versatile weapon. Santana worked diligently with bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. this spring on improving his throwing and defense.
The ballclub has been pleased with the early results.
"It started in Spring Training," said Alomar, who spent 20 seasons in the big leagues as a catcher. "You can even see it on his throws between innings. He's throwing the ball much better back there."
Santana headed into Sunday's game against Oakland having cut down three of seven stolen-base attempts for a caught-stealing rate of 43 percent. The 26-year-old catcher -- in his second full season as the Tribe's starter behind the plate -- had a caught-stealing rate of 24 percent (18-of-74) in 2011.
Indians manager Manny Acta said a big difference this year was Santana's preparation during Spring Training. Last season, Santana was returning from surgery on his left knee, which forced the team to limit his workload during the preseason.
"He's been really good behind the plate," Acta said. "Everything has to do with him coming to Spring Training healthy and being able to get all the reps that he needed with Sandy. Last year, coming back from that knee surgery, he was limited. We had to work him at first base, give him a lot of time off, and we weren't able to do the extra work with him like we did in Spring Training.
"This year it was totally different. We didn't have to worry about first base or anything like that. It was about getting drilled by Sandy. He's done a tremendous job receiving and throwing the ball."