Cleveland fans gave veteran first baseman Carlos Santana a lengthy ovation in his first at-bat since he signed a two-year deal with the Royals in the offseason. Santana stepped out of the batter’s box to soak in the moment and even tipped his hat to the crowd, who eventually got on their feet and continued to applaud.
Santana spent 10 of his first 11 years in a Cleveland uniform, amassing 216 home runs and 19.5 fWAR in 1334 games. He slashed .251/.368/.450 with Cleveland in that span and is second in franchise history with 881 walks — trailing only Jim Thome’s incredible 1008 free bases in a Cleveland uniform.
On top of everything he did for Cleveland over the years, including switching positions multiple times and anchoring a lineup through some rough years, Santana caught the ball that sent Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 and provided one of the most iconic images in Cleveland baseball history as he went to his knees in foul territory while his teammates rushed the field.
While he did play one year in Philadelphia, the Phillies never traveled to Cleveland in 2018, making this his first time ever playing at Progressive Field as a visiting player.
Progressive Field is allowed 30% capacity under an ordinance from governor Mike DeWine, so roughly 10,500 fans were there cheering Santana on. Not as many as there would have been in a regular home opener, but more than Jason Kipnis was able to get in his return to Progressive Field last year as a member of the Cubs. Just one of the many great moments that can only happen with fans, no matter how limited, in attendance.