Indians mulling whether to play Santana in OF

Francona wants to keep his glove on field; plus notes on Anderson, Mercado

February 16th, 2019
Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana fields a ground ball during informal workouts at the team training facility Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)Ross D. Franklin/AP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There's been plenty of names thrown around when attempting to predict the Indians' starting outfield, including , , and , but could the Tribe turn to ?

"That's something I want to sit down and talk to him about," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Between Bauers and Santana, we need to figure out what ends up being best for our team. And to do that, I think we need to communicate with both those guys and watch them play for a little while."

Perez arrives confident, has backing from Tito

If Bauers becomes the Tribe's everyday first baseman, an obvious option the team has is moving Santana into the DH role, but the Indians may try to find another way to keep his glove on the field.

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"Knowing Carlos, he's never been the biggest fan of DH-ing," Francona said. "Some of that may have to come with how we're configured. I was proud of him for being willing to do it, I just thought physically it wasn't that hard for him. He's a better athlete than people give him credit for."

Santana, 32, has played in 10 games in the outfield in his career (seven in right and three in left), spending most of his time as a catcher, first baseman and third baseman. Two of those 10 contests came in the 2016 World Series, where he made appearances in left field in Games 3 and 5 against the Cubs. Although he's not as experienced in the grass, both Santana and Francona believe he has the athleticism to be able to play there.

"Everybody knows that my natural position is catching and playing third base and first base," Santana said. "I don't like to worry about that. I worry about if I'm going to be in the lineup every day. If Tito needs me to be in the outfield, then I'll do it 100 percent."

Now that the Tribe's position players have officially reported to Spring Training, Francona will have his one-on-one meeting with Santana in the next few days to start that conversation.

"We'll see what happens," Santana said. "DH, first base, outfield, whatever. I'll be fine. But everybody knows I'm pretty good at first base, so we'll see. I haven't talked to [Indians president of baseball operations] Chris [Antonetti] and [general manager] Mike [Chernoff] and Tito yet, but we'll see the plan where they are for me this year."

Anderson unrestricted to start camp

After missing the last two seasons due to Tommy John surgery, is back in baseball. Francona said the 28-year-old right-hander is cleared to participate in full baseball activities at Spring Training, but the team will make sure to give him some extra rest if needed to ensure he doesn't rush back too quickly.

"He's free to go compete, but like I said, with the caveat [of keeping an eye on him]," Francona said. "We do it with everybody, but a guy coming back from Tommy John, you need to, especially with Cody's attitude where he pushes so hard. They all look at Opening Day and I understand it, but we can't let that get in the way of guys getting hurt."

Prospect to get opportunity in spring

The Indians will get a chance to evaluate outfielder , who was acquired at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline from the Cardinals and spent the remainder of the season with Triple-A Columbus. 

The club's No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline began his professional career as a shortstop and made the transition to center field in 2017. Mercado, 24, has a plus arm, speed and defense, and his offensive numbers improved greatly after he made the move to the outfield.

"I actually called [former Cardinals manager Mike] Matheny last year," Francona said. "… He just raved about this kid, like he wanted to adopt him. But it was kind of fun to hear that. You always like hearing that stuff."