Santana was correct. Including the Tribe's 4-0 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, Cleveland has won six of seven games in which the switch-hitter has served as the lineup's tablesetter. Indians manager Terry Francona moved Santana to that role due to his ability to see pitches, draw walks and get on base for the hitters who follow (typically Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Mike Napoli).
There are games in which Francona puts Santana back in the middle, though. On Thursday, for example, the manager moved Santana back to the No. 6 spot to help create a little more balance throughout the batting order. More often than not, the plan going forward is to have Santana be No. 1 in the offensive alignment.
"I'd have been doing it for the wrong reason today," Francona said on Thursday. "We'd have had switch, left, switch, left, right, right, right, right, and I didn't like that. I fight sometimes, balance as opposed to trying to beat that night's starter. After talking to [bench coach Brad Mills], I think the balance won out. Carlos is certainly going to hit first a lot."
In his first seven games as a leadoff hitter, Santana has a .346/.452/.615 slash line with five extra-base hits, six runs, five walks and three strikeouts.
"I'm feeling more comfortable," Santana said. "I worry about my team. If we win with that lineup, I don't have a problem."
• Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (strained left hamstring) continued to play catch and do light jogging drills in the outfield on Thursday. Francona said it is too early to tell whether Carrasco is ahead of the initial four- to six-week timetable for his return from the 15-day disabled list. Carrasco said it was a relief when he heard that potential comeback schedule.
"Yeah, it was good news when they told me that," Carrasco said. "I don't feel 100 percent yet, so I just continue to do my rehab and my work."
• Francona noted that reliever Craig Stammen, who underwent surgery on April 19 last year to repair torn flexor tendons in his right forearm, was "not bouncing back" as well as hoped last month. The manager indicated that Stammen remains in Arizona and has built up to 120 feet in his throwing program.