ST. PETERSBURG -- Indians manager Manny Acta has maintained a consistent approach throughout Carlos Santana's ongoing offensive slump. Acta has kept Cleveland's catcher in the lineup, giving him a chance to fight his way out of the funk.
For Wednesday's 10-6 win over the Rays, Santana remained in the batting order and was actually bumped back up to the fifth spot after hitting seventh in the previous game against the Rays. Santana responded by going 2-for-4 with a three-run home run, one walk, two runs scored and four RBIs for Cleveland.
"It was nice to see that," Acta said. "He finally got that monkey off his back with that homer, which was huge."
Acta said that he feels the best approach with slumping players such as Santana is to keep them on the field.
"We'll continue to be positive with them and play them," Acta said of his struggling hitters. "That's the only way they're going to get better. Carlos is hanging in there. He's getting his walks here and there. The only way they're going to get out of it is by playing."
Entering Wednesday, Santana was hitting .221 with five home runs and 30 RBIs through 74 games for the Indians. Through his first 74 games a year ago, Santana hit just .225, but he had belted 11 home runs with 35 RBIs, and was on his way to a 27-homer, 79-RBI showing for the Tribe.
Santana's home run on Wednesday ended a homerless drought of 136 at-bats -- a stretch that dated back to May 15. The catcher's season average peaked at .269 on May 17, but he had hit just .172 with eight RBIs in the 38 games since that point, entering Wednesday. Pitchers have given Santana fewer fastballs this year, and a steady dose of offspeed offerings.
"He continues just to struggle with his balance at the plate," Acta said. "He's pull happy. He's working. He's working hard with [hitting coach Bruce Fields], but it's going to take time. It's not going to be one at-bat or two at-bats. As of late, he has been seeing the ball better, because at least he's walking."