For Sunday's game against Seattle, though, Santana was given the day off after a scare at first base in the fifth inning of Saturday's 11-4 win over the Mariners. While catching a throw from third baseman Giovanny Urshela, Santana had his right arm bent back in a minor collision with Seattle's Jean Segura. Francona noted that Santana felt stiffness in his shoulder on Sunday morning, but X-rays came back clean.
With a team off-day on Monday, Francona felt it was best to give Santana the two-day break, especially after the first baseman remained in Saturday's game until being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.
"He's good," Francona said. "He tested out really well. Good strength. He'll get treatment all day [Sunday]. He'll come in tomorrow and get treated, but my guess is he'll probably play on Tuesday. He's doing fine. We made him go up and swing in the cage before we let him hit and, you saw it, his swings were pretty aggressive. So, that was good."
In discussing Santana's status, Francona made a point to also praise the first baseman's defense this year.
Heading into Sunday's game, Santana led American League first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (nine) and double plays started (15), and was tied for first in assists (90). His 4.8 UZR/150 ranked third among his AL positional peers. Those are the type of defensive statistics that could make Santana an unexpected contender for a Gold Glove this year.
"His defense has been [great]. He's taken it to another level," Francona said. "He's proud of it, and he should be. I say it all the time, but I don't think people realize how athletic he is. As things have progressed and he's played more, he has taken a lot of pride in it and it's made a big difference. He's been really good over there."
Worth noting • Outfielder Jay Bruce returned to the lineup on Sunday as the designated hitter after exiting Saturday's game in Seattle in the fifth inning due to left heel soreness. Bruce said he has dealt with the issue off and on throughout his career. Said Francona: "We could've kept him in the game. I just don't think at this point in the year it made much sense."
• Francona said the Indians have started to map out their pitching strategy for the three off-days prior to the AL Division Series, which starts Oct. 5. The team will likely have an optional workout on Oct. 2, followed by pitchers throwing to hitters in a practice on Oct. 3. Cleveland will then hold another workout on Oct. 4.