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New role with Tribe impacting Santana's bat

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DETROIT -- Carlos Santana knew his new role with the Indians was going to be challenging this season. When he decided to take on being Cleveland's third baseman, backup catcher and cleanup hitter, Santana did not expect his offense to take a hit.

On Wednesday, Santana said he believes his early-season slump is partly the result of getting used to bouncing between positions.

"Yeah, it's affected me a little bit, but it's all right," Santana said. "Everybody knows it's hard, and it's affecting me a little, too, but I'll keep it going."

Entering Wednesday's game in Detroit, the switch-hitting Santana was batting just .186 (8-for-43) with no home runs and one RBI. Santana's 14 walks -- compared to seven strikeouts -- have helped him post a respectable .386 on-base percentage.

Santana served as the Tribe's starting catcher for the bulk of the past three seasons, but he moved into the backup role this year given the emergence of Yan Gomes behind the plate. Santana was in Wednesday's lineup as the designated hitter, giving him six starts at third, five at DH and three as the catcher this season.

Indians manager Terry Francona hopes Santana's current slump does not develop into something more than an early obstacle.

"I think what happens is, when guys aren't swinging the bats, frustration can set in," Francona said. "He's our cleanup hitter and he's a heck of a hitter. What he has done has helped us win a few games, just by being able to go behind the plate.

"If that's how he feels, I probably need to sit and talk to him to make him feel better about things, because what he does is very valuable. What I don't want to lose sight of is, the day before the season, he was all in. I don't want to let a slow start with the bat ruin that."

Santana sounded confident that he would be able to turn things around soon enough.

"I know the fans, everybody, they worry about my hitting," Santana said. "But this is like two weeks. It's a long season -- six months. This is the first month. I need to keep going and I'll come back."

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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