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Santana pushing cars and now Franco

First baseman hoping young slugger can emulate patient hitting approach
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A couple weeks after Carlos Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in late December, he posted a video of himself pushing a white Mercedes-Benz in the Dominican Republic.

He pushed the car eight times, 120 yards each time.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A couple weeks after Carlos Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in late December, he posted a video of himself pushing a white Mercedes-Benz in the Dominican Republic.

He pushed the car eight times, 120 yards each time.

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"My personal trainer came up with that," Santana said through an interpreter Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Field. "He thought about it because he thought it would be a good workout for my legs, for my arms. It's a complete workout. You use every single muscle in your body. Those cars are so heavy you really need to push through."

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Next, Santana is ready to push Maikel Franco.

It is well documented how Franco and Santana have been joined at the hip since Santana signed with the Phillies. In fact, Santana told the Phillies that he wanted his locker next to Franco's in Spring Training. They could have the same setup at Citizens Bank Park.

"He's shown me that he wants to help me," Franco said.

It also is well documented that this is a big season for Franco, who posted a .690 OPS in 623 plate appearances last season. Franco ranked last out of 18 qualified third basemen in OPS and on-base percentage (.278). He ranked 17th in slugging percentage (.404).

If he improves he could still have a future with the Phillies. If his numbers remain where they are they almost certainly will move on.

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The hope is Santana, whose patience at the plate is a strength, can teach the Franco, who can be an impatient hacker.

"I'm a young guy and I have to learn about hitting," Franco said. "I'm just trying to get a lot of information from him. I'm trying to get close to him. Carlos selects a lot of good pitches. He's got a good idea [at the plate]. I'm trying to find out everything that I can do. I know he's going to help me a lot."

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Santana is on board.

"We're going to work together every single day," he said. "We're going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he's a guy that's very talented and he's capable of a lot. So I'm going to be there. I'm committed to helping him. I'm going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he's going to go with me to hit some balls. He's committed and I'm committed, too."

Tweet from @Phillies: Ladies and gentlemen, may we present to you...@TheRealSlamtana! pic.twitter.com/2u9Z04X1f8

It is a good thing Santana committed to the Phillies when he did. Numerous big-name free agents remain available, including Jake Arrieta and Eric Hosmer. Believe it or not, Santana's $60 million deal is the fourth-largest contract this offseason.

Only Yu Darvish ($126 million), Justin Upton ($106 million) and Lorenzo Cain ($80 million) received bigger deals.

"It definitely worked out for me," he said. "I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents. But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Maikel Franco, Carlos Santana