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Francona plans to mainly use Santana at catcher

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have used catcher Carlos Santana as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter over the past two seasons. This year, the plan is to have Santana catch a lot. The rest will be sorted out as the season moves along.

The Tribe's revamped roster now has full-time options at first base and DH in Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, respectively.

"That's something we'll probably have to work through as I get to know him," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Santana. "Guys get nicked up from time to time and certainly things can change during a season. But the way we sit now, I've talked about having him catch.

"It's not quite as easy to move him over there [to first base], because you're moving somebody else out. And he understands that."

Last season, the switch-hitting Santana hit .252 with 18 home runs, 27 doubles, 76 RBIs and 91 walks in 143 games for Cleveland. He started 95 games behind the plate, but also had 27 starts as the DH and 20 starts at first. In 2011, Santana started 88 games at catcher and 63 at first.

There could be days when Swisher plays right field, if one of Cleveland's outfielders is given a day off. Under that scenario, Reynolds could play first base and Santana could serve as the designated hitter. That alignment could come into play against left-handed pitchers, with the right-handed Lou Marson starting behind the plate.

"You need to play Marson to the point where he can be helpful," Francona said. "These things have a way of working out. But the plan is to catch [Santana] the majority of the time."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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