Over the weekend Carlos Santana was quoted as saying "I am getting ready to play third base, no other position. Those are the plans of the team." Santana has been playing for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican League since early December, almost entirely as a third baseman. He made 5 errors in his first 5 games, but has done better of late, with 6 erros in his last 20 games. That's still a lot of errors (and it's a small sample size, etc.), but it seems like a sign that he's improving. Coaches and other observers have had positive things so say about Santana's progress as well.
"We have not made a decision at third base. That's what spring training is for. But Carlos has gotten a tremendous head start due to the work he's put in this offseason. It started with him working at our complex in the Dominican Republic with our coaches. And it transitioned into winter ball."
More on Carlos Santana
More on Carlos Santana
Santana says the team approached him about playing third base, and that after taking some time to think it over, he agreed, while the front office has said Santana asked about playing third base, having accepted that Yan Gomes will be the team's primary catcher in 2014. Given that Carlos has given up much of his offseason in an effort to make this happen, I wouldn't expect Antonetti to shoot Santana's chances out of the air, but his comments do seem to imply that the front office sees this as more than just creating an emergency option at the position.
Antonetti was asked about how open the competition as third base is:
"We feel good about our options there. We continue to believe in Lonnie Chisenhall and his potential. And Carlos can only enhance his impact on the team and our goal of becoming a better ball club."
Chisenhall has really struggled to hit lefties in his career, and having Santana capable of platooning at third base would greatly increase the Tribe's hitting from the hot corner. That said, some of you have already pointed out that while Santana's bat against southpaws is a major upgrade from Lonnie's, Carlos would be in the lineup against lefties either way, and putting him at third base means you have to find a new DH for those games, and there's not really another great option for that spot.
The flexibility would still be a big plus though; it provides better coverage in the event of an injury to Chisenhall, Mike Aviles, or Asdrubal Cabrera; creates a situation where the Indians can look to give the 25th spot on the roster to whichever available player does best against lefties; and would allow for more players to get the added rest that comes from spending a night at DH, instead of n the field.
Every other position on the diamond seems accounted for, so among position players, third base looks like it will be the spot for Tribe fans to watch when spring training begins next month.