Game action will be true test for Santana at third

Game action will be true test for Santana at third

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Santana has appeared comfortable at third base during workouts over the past eight days. What the Indians are looking forward to seeing now is how their former starting catcher looks in a game setting.

Cleveland opens its Cactus League slate against the Reds at 3:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Goodyear Ballpark.

"He continues to make really good strides," said Indians third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh, who doubles as the team's infield instructor. "The next step is game action and just taking the ball off the bat -- the different angles, different speeds, top spins. The ball coming off the bat is going to be the big test.

"I think he feels pretty good about it. That is definitely going to be the next step. If he just keeps progressing, that's all we can ask."

The Indians are giving Santana the opportunity to show what he can do at third base this spring because Yan Gomes will open the season as the team's everyday catcher. Cleveland has not determined whether Santana might be a full-time option at the hot corner, or if the position will simply be another option to go along with catching and part-time duty at first base and designated hitter.

Indians manager Terry Francona was quick to note that third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who is also vying for regular at-bats at the position, has had a solid camp to this point.

"Carlos has worked really hard to get where he's going," Francona said. "Saying that, I think Lonnie's had a good camp so far. I don't want that to get [lost]. He's done a really good job."

Over the offseason, Sarbaugh spent three days in the Dominican Republic to work with Santana, who was playing third base during winter ball in his home country. The third-base coach has continued to work closely with Santana on the position this spring and has been plesantly surprised by the catcher's ability to handle the position.

"Being a catcher the last five or six years," Sarbaugh said, "and then to take on a different position at a corner infield spot, you just don't know how that's going to play out. I knew going in that he's a good athlete, but you don't really know. Especially the first day of spring, hitting balls to him, I was really surprised with what I saw. His overall athleticism was better than expected, I'd say."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for 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.