October 1, 2014

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Indians notes: Third base is not Carlos Santana’s just yet

Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana throws during an exhibition spring training game against the San Diego Padres Saturday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Santana throws during an exhibition spring training game against the San Diego Padres Saturday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

MESA, Ariz. — Not surprisingly, Indians manager Terry Francona isn’t ready to name Carlos Santana his starting third baseman. A little more than a week into the exhibition season isn’t nearly enough to get a firm gauge on how Santana is adapting to the new position.

“If he is the third baseman, you’re not going to know how he handles it until he’s asked to handle it,” Francona said of Santana, who has committed one error in four games at third. “How many balls have been hit to him, four? That’s just not a fair sample size.

“You almost hope people hit balls to him, but then if he makes an error in Goodyear, do you say, ‘Oh, he can’t be our third baseman?’ So I think we go more on his daily work and things like that, and that’s all been really good. I think Carlos looks fine.”

Francona and the Indians are in a difficult situation this spring. They want Santana to get as much work at third base as possible, while also mixing him in at catcher, so he is an option to spell starter Yan Gomes on occasion once the regular season begins.

Francona said at the beginning of the exhibition season that Santana would start catching around two weeks into games.

“It’s a little bit of uncharted waters,” Francona said. “You don’t see anyone playing third and catching in the big leagues. But if he’s able to do it, it opens up a lot of different things.”

The forgotten man has been Lonnie Chisenhall, who has failed to reach his first-round draft-pick potential despite numerous opportunities on the big league level. With a minor league option left and Jason Giambi and others expected to the get the majority of at-bats at designated hitter against right-handers, Chisenhall is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster.

Even with the negative writing on the wall, Chisenhall isn’t sulking, according to Francona.

“I think he’s been himself,” he said. “I think he’s been even-keeled. I think he’s handled it fine.”

The pitch

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco, a candidate for the open spot in the rotation, looked strong in his third exhibition appearance. He started and allowed two unearned runs on three hits — one of them, a home run — and struck out six over three innings.

Corey Kluber was even better, following Carrasco to the mound and tossing three scoreless innings on a hit, while striking out six batters.

Recovering reliever Vinnie Pestano continued his hot start with another scoreless inning. The right-hander has retired the side in order in each of his exhibition appearances, while striking out one.

“(He was) efficient,” Francona said. “What we’re seeing is late movement, which is really encouraging. Now the hope is that as he builds into spring training you get a little more velocity with it, but he’s got late movement. That’s why you’re seeing the quick at-bats.”

Scary moment

Right fielder Ryan Raburn sustained a cut lip and a bruised left knee after crashing into the wall on a dead run while trying to chase down a two-run homer from Kris Bryant in the second inning. He lay sprawled out on the warning track as Francona and a trainer ran out of the dugout to tend to him.

Raburn stayed in the game but was lifted for a pinch hitter before batting in the third.

“Ray hit that wall pretty hard. He’s OK,” Francona said. “He cut his lip and he banged his knee, but he went back and got looked at. He’s fine. We’ll check him in the morning.”

Roundin’ third

The Indians won their eighth straight game after opening the exhibition season with a loss to the Reds. … Today, 3:05 vs. Padres at Peoria Sports Complex. WTAM 1100-AM. Cloyd (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Johnson (0-0, 0.00).

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.