9/11/2013 1:35 A.M. ET
Santana wants to catch, but focused on winning
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- More often than not these days, Carlos Santana heads into the Indians' clubhouse and sees his name listed as the team's designated hitter. Santana would prefer to remain the starting catcher for Cleveland, but that role has been taken over by Yan Gomes in the past six weeks.
Indians manager Terry Francona has discussed the change in roles with Santana, but that has not necessarily made it an easy transition.
"This is a little hard for me, or for any player," Santana said on Tuesday. "For me, I want to win. The manager put Yan behind the plate and he's done a good job, so we're better hitting and catching, too. It's hard for me, but I'm not thinking about that. I'm confident in the manager about the lineup he puts out every day.
"We're still fighting, fighting for the Wild Card. And we're 4 1/2 games back of Detroit. It's affected me a little bit, but I'm thinking about winning. I'm thinking about trying to help my team, and trying to be patient. I'm thinking about just staying in the lineup every day."
In the first four months of the season, Santana caught 61 percent of the innings (572) compared to 38 percent for Gomes (358). Since Aug. 1, though, the pair of backstops have reversed course in terms of playing time behind the plate, with Gomes handling 63 percent (212) of the innings compared to 37 percent (124 2/3) for Santana.
Gomes (.302 average with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs in 72 games) and Santana (.264 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs in 136 games) have both handled themselves well offensively, but Gomes has been the better of the two on defense.
Gomes entered Tuesday leading the American League with a 46.9 (15-for-32) caught-stealing rate, while Santana had thrown out just 15.5 percent (9-for-58) of would-be basestealers, according to STATS. Cleveland's pitchers had a 4.13 ERA with Santana behind the dish compared to a 3.67 mark with Gomes.
"He's good, and he's getting better," Francona said of Gomes. "That's exciting. You start to catch more and the hope is just what's happened, that he's gotten better. You see some guys start to get banged up, or their legs get a little heavy, arm doesn't have quite as much carry. That hasn't happened in this instance. This kid is getting better."
Gomes' swift learning curve has been a great development for the Indians, but it has left Santana working through the adjustment of serving more as a DH and part-time first baseman.
"This is my position," Santana said of catching. "Right now, it's changed a little bit, because Yan is having a good year. I'm playing every day. It's a little hard for me, but I want to be a good teammate. I don't worry about that. ... The most important thing for me is staying in the lineup every day."
Francona doesn't want to overwork Allen
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has leaned on Cody Allen more than any other reliever this season, calling on the rookie for late innings and high-pressure situations. Francona knows he needs to avoid turning to the hard-throwing right-hander too often.
When Allen surrendered a two-run home run to Royals left fielder Alex Gordon in the eighth inning on Monday night, Francona did not feel the reliever deserved the damage to his pitching line.
"I probably should've taken the earned runs last night," Francona admitted on Tuesday. "I shouldn't have pitched him."
The Indians held on for a 4-3 win over the Royals, but that did not alter Francona's feelings about Allen's recent workload. Heading into Tuesday, when Allen was not available out of the bullpen, the right-hander led American League rookies with 67 appearances and led Cleveland's relievers in games pitched and innings (63) logged.
On the season, the 24-year-old Allen has a 2.71 ERA with 78 strikeouts, but he has posted a 9.00 ERA and a 1.193 opponents' OPS over his last seven games. In Monday's appearance, Allen averaged 97.1 mph on his fastball, but Francona said velocity has not been the problem.
"It's been location," Francona said. "He's pitched a lot lately. He's reaching back to get his velocity, and he's able to do it, but I think it's costing him location."
Allen will continue to serve as a key cog within the Tribe's bullpen, but Francona said he needs to be more mindful of the young pitcher's usage.
"I think I made a mistake last night," Francona said. "He's been so valuable and we've gone to him in leverage situations to put out fires. I don't care whether he's a veteran or young kid, he's done a great job. We will continue to do that. I just need to not throw him too much."
Tribe Fest to return to Cleveland from Jan. 25-26
CLEVELAND -- The book is far from closed on this season for the Indians, but that has not stopped the club from thinking ahead to the offseason.
On Tuesday, Cleveland announced plans to bring its popular Tribe Fest back to Progressive Field in January. The two-day fan festival was a hit last offseason in its inaugural year and will take place in 2014 from Jan. 25-26.
Tribe Fest is again expected to include the participation of a variety of Indians players, alumni and prospects, while featuring a wide range of games and activities for Indians fans. The event includes tours of the home clubhouse and batting cages, autograph and picture opportunities and question-and-answer sessions with members of the organization, among other things.
The Indians will announce more details about the 2014 Tribe Fest at a later date.
Quote to note
"He was all over the place. He overslid two bases. He got picked off. He threw a ball away. He made a really good play. He created a run with his speed. He got two hits. He was everywhere. But that's part of the reason we played him. I prefer that as opposed to have to kick a guy in the pants and tell him to hustle."
-- Francona, on rookie Jose Ramirez's showing in Monday's 4-3 win over the Royals
• The Indians entered Monday ranked 27th in the Major Leagues in total and average attendance despite being in a postseason race. Monday's announced crowd of 9,794 represented the lowest September/October crowd in the history of Progressive Field, which opened its doors in 1994. It marked the second Cleveland crowd under 10,000 within the past six games.
"It was pretty energetic last night. It just wasn't a lot of people," Francona said on Tuesday. "But the people that were here were having a ball. To be honest with you, I can't do anything about it. I think every player that ever played the game would love to play in front of a sold-out stadium every night. That's not the case.
"You can either complain about it or you can do what you can do, which is play well. That will translate into more fans at some point."
• Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 batters in Monday's outing against the Royals, giving him double-digit showings in three of his past four starts for the Tribe. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jimenez joined CC Sabathia (2008) and Chuck Finley (2000) as the only Cleveland pitchers in the past 35 seasons to have three 10-plus strikeouts games in a four-start stretch.
• Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco was away from the ballclub on Tuesday in order to attend to a personal matter. Francona indicated that the long reliever will likely rejoin the team in Chicago at some point during the club's upcoming four-game series, which begins Thursday.
• Ramirez went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and one run against the Royals on Monday in his first Major League start. The 20-year-old received the ball he hit for his first big league hit and said he plans on giving it to his mom, Xiomara, whose name it tattooed on his right forearm.