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Tribe still views Santana as catcher by trade

Francona says converted third baseman will be behind plate against A's

Tribe still views Santana as catcher by trade play video for Tribe still views Santana as catcher by trade

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Carlos Santana has impressed the Indians with his transition to third base, but the club has no plans of telling him to pack away his catching gear.

Manager Terry Francona indicated on Monday morning that Santana is scheduled to start behind the plate during Wednesday's game against the A's at Goodyear Ballpark. Santana has only played third base for the Tribe up to this point in Cactus League play this spring.

"He caught the first five days of camp," said Francona, referring to Cleveland's early spring workouts. "And then, we told him that he would be exclusively a third baseman."

Francona added that Santana caught a bullpen session within the past week and was scheduled to do so again during Monday's morning workout.

Santana offered to try his hand at third base this spring in light of the emergence of Yan Gomes as the new starting catcher. Over the offseason, Santana began the transition from catching by working at third baseman in roughly 30 games in the Dominican Winter League.

The switch-hitting Santana is expected to open the season as Cleveland's cleanup hitter, so the team is keeping an open mind about how to use him defensively. Lonnie Chisenhall and Santana have split the playing time at third base this spring, and Santana can also serve as a part-time option at first base when he is not acting as the backup catcher. One thing Santana made clear last season is that he does not want to develop into a full-time designated hitter.

Santana has experienced some expected growing pains at third base -- he has a handful of errors this spring -- but Cleveland has been impressed with his overall play in the field and work behind the scenes. It is a unique situation for Francona, who said he is not entirely sure how Santana's defensive schedule will look in the two weeks leading up to the start of the season.

"I know he's going to catch Wednesday," Francona said. "We have Thursday off and I think Gomes is catching Friday and Saturday. We'll see. We'll see how it goes. I'm not sure we know quite exactly how it's going to go."

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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