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Smoke signals

Carlos Santana has looked solid at third base during workouts over the last week. The real challenge begins on Wednesday, when Cleveland opens its Cactus League schedule and gives the catcher a chance to show what he can do at the hot corner in a game setting.

"I think he's done a remarkable job to get to this point," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think the games will tell us a lot more. He's working hard every day. I think the biggest compliment is, you look at him out there and with trained or untrained [eyes], and you wouldn't say, 'Oh, that's a catcher playing third.' He's playing third."

• With spring games set to begin soon, Francona was hoping to have a better idea of the proposed ban of home-plate collisions and what the rules would be for the upcoming season. Francona also reiterated that he is against banning collisions at the plate.

"I think I'm in the minority," Francona said. "I guess I thought that if you didn't want your catcher to block home plate, tell him not to. I think we're going to jeopardize baserunners more than we anticipate. Now, they say at the college level it's worked great, so we'll see."

• Indians reliever David Aardsma, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee, posted a 4.31 ERA in 43 games with the Mets last year. According to, Aardsma averaged 91.2 mph with his fastball, 82 mph with his slider and 84.9 mph with his splitter. In 2008, when he last pitched for Francona, those averages were 94.5, 83.8 and 87.2, respectively.

"It'll be intersting to see where his velocity sits," Francona said of Aardsma, who missed most of the 2011 and '12 seasons due to elbow surgery. "When I had him before, he was 94-95, with kind of a wipeout split. You see the split in the bullpen [now], it has a good action to it. I just want to see where his arm strength will get to."

• Teammates of Jason Giambi already joke that he is almost an assistant manager to Francona. Over the last two days, the 43-year-old veteran played the role of assistant pitching coach. During live batting practice, Giambi spoke with Aaron Harang about a mechanical issue with his front shoulder and later let lefty Josh Outman know that he was tipping his pitches.

"I do it all. I'm a bargain," Giambi said with a laugh. "Once you've seen so many pitchers over the years, they all look the same. So, when there's something different, you notice. Hey, anything you can do right now to help the team win games, you do."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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