CLEVELAND -- When the Indians acquired Yan Gomes in an offseason trade with the Blue Jays, Cleveland made it clear that it considered him a candidate to be an everyday catcher at some point in the future. The Tribe did not know he would seize that job by September.
Over the past month, Gomes has garnered the bulk of the playing time behind the plate for the Indians, who have given catcher Carlos Santana time as a designated hitter or part-time first baseman to keep his bat in the lineup. The way manager Terry Francona views the situation, Cleveland does not really have a true backup catcher at the moment.
"Right now, fortunately, we seem to have two everyday catchers," Francona said. "That's pretty fortunate. We just try to use it to our advantage."
Santana entered Saturday hitting .261 with 17 home runs, 32 doubles, 62 RBIs and 79 walks. The switch-hitting cleanup man had 81 games at catcher, 35 at DH and 21 at first base. Since Aug. 1, however, Santana had logged 116 2/3 innings behind the plate compared to 184 innings for Gomes.
Heading into Saturday's game against the Mets, the 26-year-old Gomes was batting .300 with nine home runs, 15 doubles, 33 RBIs and an .852 OPS through 68 games. Behind the plate, Gomes has guided the pitching staff to a 3.69 ERA while throwing out 50 percent (15-of-30) of would-be basestealers.
"He's done terrific," Francona said of Gomes. "He's understanding that, as a catcher, you have to take ownership of the staff. That's first and foremost."
Francona was asked if the recent usage of Gomes and Santana -- with Gomes spending the majority of the time at catcher -- was an indication of how the Indians might view their catching alignment in the future.
"You're probably getting ahead of yourself," Francona said. "I think it just kind of makes common sense. [Gomes] has done so well that, when we're playing him, it makes sense to catch him. He's a good catcher. Santana has the ability to DH, play first. Gomes probably does, too, but since he hasn't caught as much, it just seems to make sense."