Santana getting more starts at first

Santana getting more starts at first

Santana getting more starts at first
BOSTON -- Plans can always change in light of performance. That is why the Indians have seemingly scrapped the initial idea of using catcher Carlos Santana as a part-time designated hitter against left-handed pitching.

On Saturday, Santana was in the starting lineup as the first baseman with lefty Felix Doubront on the mound for the Red Sox. Using Santana at first base rather than as a DH on the days he doesn't catch has been an unexpected trend.

Manager Manny Acta said this is due to the solid showing from DH Travis Hafner.

"It has to do with Hafner's good start," Acta said. "Hafner was swinging the bat well at the beginning of the season, and we wanted to keep him in there."

During Spring Training, Acta indicated that Hafner might sit against left-handed pitching, giving Santana a chance to serve as DH to keep his legs fresh. Instead it has been first baseman Casey Kotchman, who carried a .194 average into Saturday's game, who has taken a seat on the bench to allow Santana time in the field.

Santana has appeared in four games at first base this season: against Doubront on Saturday, against White Sox lefty Eric Stults on Monday, against Rangers lefty Derek Holland on May 5 and against White Sox lefty Chris Sale on May 1. Santana's lone appearance at DH came with Sale on the hill on April 19.

Acta was also quick to note that Doubront's three-year splits against left-handed batters are actually favorable for the Indians' lefty-heavy lineup. Entering Saturday and dating back to 2010, lefties have hit .281 with a .876 OPS off Doubront, compared with .275/.768 by right-handed hitters.

"Lefties have had some success against him," Acta said, "so I'd rather keep Hafner in there."