BOSTON -- In limiting Carlos Santana's playing time behind the plate of late, the Indians have kept his health in mind. By not playing Santana at third base since he was activated from Major League Baseball's concussion list, Cleveland has kept its defense in mind.
For Friday's game against the Red Sox, Santana was penciled into the starting lineup at first base for the seventh straight game. Since he was activated June 6, Santana has only played first and spent one game as a designated hitter.
"I think we're a better defensive team that way," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think Carlos is probably a better first baseman than he is a third baseman."
When this season opened, Santana served as Cleveland's regular third baseman and backup catcher. The goal heading into the year was to reduce his action at first base and DH, which was his primary role late last season after Yan Gomes emerged as the starting catcher.
Over the past six weeks, first baseman Nick Swisher has dealt with knee issues, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has emerged as one of the game's hottest hitters and Santana dealt with the second concussion of his career. Cleveland has kept backup catcher George Kottaras to help give Gomes a break, leaving Santana to mostly first base and DH duties over the past week.
Chisenhall has played some first base this season (five starts while Swisher was on the DL), but Francona noted that Santana has more experience at the position in his career.
"He's played a lot more first than Lonnie," Francona said. "Lonnie's played first base four times or five in his career. Carlos has played a lot of first. I just thought that was an easier way to come back [off the concussion list]. He hadn't played in a week."
Hagadone optioned, reliever Crockett recalled
BOSTON -- Nick Hagadone sounded like he was searching for answers in the immediate aftermath of Thursday's loss to the Red Sox. On Friday, the Indians optioned the struggling reliever to Triple-A Columbus to help him sort through his recent issues on the mound.
Rookie lefty Kyle Crockett was recalled from Triple-A to take Hagadone's spot in the Cleveland bullpen.
"In there, is a good pitcher and a guy that has pretty special stuff," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Hagadone. "We desperately want to tap into that. ... This is not cutting the cord. This is not giving up. When Hags is in our bullpen pitching like he can pitch, we're going to be a better team."
In Thursday's 5-2 loss to Boston, Hagadone was called upon with two outs, a runner on third base and Cleveland trailing by just one run in the sixth. The lefty issued a four-pitch walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox center fielder promptly stole second base and then came around to score on a two-run double by Brock Holt.
After the loss, Hagadone was asked if there was something in particular he needed to work on fixing.
"If I had that answer, I wouldn't be pitching like this," Hagdone said. "I don't know."
Cleveland promoted the 28-year-old Hagadone from Triple-A earlier this month after he posted a 2.25 ERA with 22 strikeouts against only three walks in 12 innings in May. In his first two outings for Cleveland, the left-hander struck out four, allowed only one hit and walked none in two impressive innings.
In his past three appearances, though, Hagadone was charged with two runs on three hits (one home run) with two walks, no strikeouts and only one out recorded. That rapid unraveling pushed Hagadone's ERA to 7.71 in five games.
"We want it to be a situation where, when he comes to the big leagues, he can help us win games," Francona said. "He was on a roll in Triple-A and his first couple games here he really helped us. Then, it seemed to be going the other way, even in his mind. So, we want to try to help him get over some hurdles, whether it's anxiety or however you want to put it."
Crockett, 23, rejoins the Indians for his second stint in the big leagues. The club's No. 15 prospect was originally promoted from Double-A Akron on May 16, becoming the first player from any team's 2013 Draft class to reach the Majors. In 4 1/3 innings for the Indians, Crockett posted a 2.08 ERA with a .154 opponents' batting average.
Since being optioned to Triple-A on May 22, Crockett has allowed one earned run with six strikeouts and no walks in 8 2/3 innings for Columbus. In 21 appearances combined between Double-A and Triple-A this season, the left-hander has a 0.74 ERA with 23 strikeouts, three walks and a .172 opponents' average in 24 1/3 innings.
"I think [Crockett] is really beyond his years in maturity level," Francona said. "He kind of is what he is and he can do it at the Double-A level, Triple-A level of Major League level, because the game doesn't speed up on him."
Francona offers take on Raburn's diminished power
BOSTON -- Ryan Raburn emerged as one of baseball's most surprising sources of power last season, giving the Indians a potent bat to utilize off the bench. This year, the utility man's pop has disappeared in the season's first three months.
"We've been actually talking about that a little bit," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Pitches that last year he hit, right now he's fouling back. He's sometimes [just a little] off."
Entering Friday's game in Boston, Raburn was hitting .211 with one home run, five extra-base hits and a .535 OPS through 135 plate appearances (44 games) for Cleveland. Through 44 games played for the Tribe last year, Raburn was hitting .258 with eight homers, 17 extra-base hits and an .865 OPS in 146 plate appearances.
Raburn ended last season hitting .272 with 16 home runs (the most in the Majors among players with fewer than 300 plate appearances), 34 extra-base hits and a .901 OPS in 86 games for the Indians.
"I don't see anything that's different," Francona said. "I know he looks at a lot of video and things, but I just think he's just a tick [off]. There's a lot of things. Sometimes you just get a pitch and you foul it, and that was your pitch. You might not get another one."
Cleveland can at least be encouraged by the fact that Raburn was batting .273 (12-for-44) over his past 17 games, entering Friday. Since batting just .164 in April, Raburn has also bounced back with a .250 average (17-for-68) since the start of May, entering Friday. That said, he only had a .338 slugging percentage over that same time period.
"He's very close to doing some damage," Francona said. "I just keep trying to remind him that, 'OK, you're hitting .210 or whatever, but you're an extra player. You have to sit on that sometimes. Don't beat yourself up in-between.' You've got to remind yourself sometimes, when you're an extra player that, 'Hey, I'm a good hitter, regardless of what the scoreboard says.' That's not always the easiest thing to do."
Quote to note
"That was a great play -- the fact that he caught the ball after running in. You don't want to get doubled up when you're down, but he would've doubled me up, too. He didn't just take a step in. He came in hard. I don't know how he got to that ball."
-- Francona, on the impressive catch-and-throw double play turned in by Red Sox center fielder Bradley in the seventh inning Thursday
• Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera made a throwing error in the second inning Thursday night, giving him a league-high 12 miscues. Cabrera, who made only nine errors all of last season, is on pace to surpass the career-worst 19 errors he had in 2012 with the Tribe. Francona was asked Friday if he was worried about Cabrera's defense.
"When you say 'worried', no," Francona said. "I wish he didn't have 12. I think he's made some errors where, you can see, he's mad at himself. I think the less errors we make, the better team we're going to be. I think that's stating the obvious."
• Swisher went 0-for-4 on Thursday in his first game off the 15-day disabled list, following a bout with a left knee injury. For Friday's game against the Red Sox, Swisher was given a scheduled day off by Francona, who noted that the first baseman would return to the lineup Saturday.
• Cleveland outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who is on the 60-day disabled list after injuring his right knee in Toronto on May 14, is continuing his rehab at the Indians' complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Francona noted Friday that Morgan has initiated light throwing and has been doing running drills in a pool to help build his leg strength.
• Outfield prospect Tyler Naquin (selected by the Tribe in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft) extended his hitting streak with Double-A Akron to 15 games on Thursday. Naquin has hit safely in 23 of his past 24 games and has hit .453 (29-for-64) during the 15-game streak.