GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) - Carlos Santana went 9 for 9 - not at bat, but at a new position and that made the Cleveland Indians happy.
Santana played first base for the first time in a 9-2 loss to a San Diego Padres split squad on Wednesday.
``I felt good,' Santana said after making seven putouts and two assists over six innings.
Normally a catcher, Santana's only gaffe came when he tossed the ball past second baseman Jayson Nix on the traditional throw around the infield following the first out of the game.
``He looked comfortable, but it was only one game,' manager Manny Acta said. ``He made some good plays and we'll play him there again.'
The hard-hitting Santana had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee in August and is slated to start at catcher. Acta wants to keep the switch-hitter in the lineup and reduce the stress on Santana's legs by using the 24-year-old at first base.
``It's OK with me, whatever the manager wants,' said Santana, who played third base until being converted to catcher in the Los Angeles Dodgers' system in 2007. He was dealt to Cleveland in 2008 for veteran Casey Blake.
``My knee is fine, there's no problem,' Santana said. ``I'm a catcher now, but I like to field ground balls.'
Most of all, Santana enjoys hitting. He batted .311 with 57 homers and 275 RBIs in his last 2 1/2 seasons in the minors before being called up in June. He hit .260 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 46 games before being hurt in a collision at home plate Aug. 2 in Boston.
Santana doubled and scored the Indians' first run in the second inning off Cory Luebke.
Luebke, trying to win a Padres rotation spot, gave up two hits and one run over three innings. The left-hander struck out three of the last four men he faced.
``He finished strong, that's what I liked,' Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley said. ``He was falling behind in the count early, but made an adjustment and pitched well after that. As long as he stays ahead in the count, he can pitch in the majors.'
Rookies Aaron Cunningham and Anthony Rizzo homered on consecutive pitches from Carlos Carrasco in the second to put San Diego ahead 2-0. Rizzo had three RBIs. Cunningham and veteran Chase Headley had two hits and two RBIs apiece.
Carrasco allowed four hits and struck out two over three innings. He returned to camp Tuesday after going to Florida for the birth of his first daughter, Camila, on Friday.
``He threw the ball well,' Acta said of the right-hander, who was clocked at 94 mph on scouts' radar guns. ``He also threw some good breaking balls.'
NOTES: Indians 3B Jason Donald is expected to play Thursday. He has been out with a sore left hand, hit by a pitch Saturday. ... Cleveland 2B Luis Valbuena hit his third homer, one more than he had for the Indians in 2010. ... San Diego rookie LHP Colt Hynes fanned two in a perfect ninth. ... Indians OF Grady Sizemore, recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee in June, said he hopes to be cleared to run the bases this weekend. On Friday, RHP Anthony Reyes will throw batting practice to Sizemore. Reyes is rehabbing from elbow surgery.
The Associated Press News Service
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