PHILADELPHIA -- Aside from a blister that popped open on the index finger on his right hand Tuesday night, little has slowed Carlos Santana in his first two weeks in the big leagues.Santana suffered that minor injury while swinging the bat earlier in the game, but that's far from the only damage his bat has done thus far. The switch-hitting sensation entered Wednesday batting .355 (11-for-31) with five runs scored, five doubles, two homers and eight RBIs, reaching base safely in each of his first 10 games. What's impressed manager Manny Acta the most about Santana, offensively, is the way he's held his own at this level, even against some unconventional arms. Already, Santana has faced the 100-mph fastball of Stephen Strasburg, the knuckleball of R.A. Dickey, and the soft-tossing finesse of Jamie Moyer -- and he's managed to put up quality at-bats along the way. In the No. 3 spot of the order, no less. "He's a natural hitter and a good hitter," Acta said. "He's impressive. He's seeing these guys for the first time, and with the type of at-bats he's had, he can be a very interesting subject in [opponents'] scouting reports, regardless of our record." Defensively, Acta said Santana will remain a work in progress for some time. He's done extra work with catching coordinator Sandy Alomar Jr., and is essentially trying to program himself to have a quicker release when trying to throw out opposing runners. "Sandy's going to be invaluable to him," Acta said.
Carrasco still in mix, despite no callup
PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Laffey was chosen over Carlos Carrasco for the Indians' vacant rotation spot, but manager Manny Acta still expects to see Carrasco at some point this season."At this point, we want to shore up some development areas with Carrasco," Acta said. "He's close. Right now, Laffey has the experience. He's done it in the past." Carrasco was a finalist for a rotation job in Spring Training. Instead, he began the year with Triple-A Columbus, where he is 5-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 starts. He's struck out 65, walked 27, hit five batters and given up 12 homers in 79 2/3 innings. This is the 23-year-old Carrasco's second full season in Triple-A. He first reached the level midway through the 2008 season, while still with the Phillies' organization. Last year, he made his big league debut with the Tribe as a September callup, and went 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA in five starts, clearly proving there is work to be done. His 2010 numbers indicate that work continues. "[He's working on] controlling the running game, staying in the moment, and not worrying about the outcome," Acta said. "He's young. It's something a lot of kids need to work on. He needs to be able to establish his fastball before his breaking pitches. That comes with experience."
Tribe must find new coach with Niebla down
PHILADELPHIA -- The Indians will have to add a new member to their coaching staff, either by the end of this road trip or the beginning of their homestand next week.Ruben Niebla, a special assistant to pitching coach Tim Belcher and bullpen coach Scott Radinsky, will need surgery on the right knee he injured when he slipped on the warning track while shagging fly balls during batting practice Sunday in Pittsburgh. Niebla, who had to be carted off the field, will have surgery to repair his patella tendon next week. He could be done for the remainder of the year. The Indians will need to call upon a new coach, likely someone plucked from inside the organization, to throw left-handed batting practice and help out in the bullpen during games.
First baseman Russell Branyan hit his team-high 10th homer Tuesday night. That was his third homer in seven games and fourth homer in June. Branyan hit .320 with five RBIs over his past seven games. ... Mitch Talbot was one of several Tribe players who watched the United States' thrilling 1-0 victory over Algeria at the Indians' team hotel in Philadelphia. "I hope I didn't scare my neighbors in the hotel from yelling too loud," Talbot said. "That was exciting." ... The Indians entered Wednesday having lost eight of their past 10 games in NL ballparks. ... For more on the Tribe, visit the CastroTurf blog.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.