Santana attributes slow start to moving around but remains upbeat

Cleveland Indians third baseman Carlos Santana (41) doubles in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.

David Richard/David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — Off to his worst April in his career, Indians third baseman Carlos Santana said before Wednesday’s game against the Tigers that the shifting between third, designated hitter and catcher might be affecting his plate production a little bit.

He then quickly also noted that it is still early in the season.

"It has a little bit (moving around) but it’s alright. I’ll come back. I know they are worrying about my hitting but if it’s the first couple weeks," Santana said.

Santana is batting .186 with no home runs and only one RBI. He was 1 for 15 in the four-game series at Chicago and broke a 0 for 18 slump during the sixth inning of Sunday’s game with a sixth-inning single. It is quite a change from last year when Santana was hitting .378 after the first 13 games.

The one thing Santana is doing is drawing walks. He is third in the AL with 14 and has drawn a walk in 9 of the 13 games played.

When asked about Santana’s comments, Terry Francona attributed them to Santana feeling frustrated about his slow start and said the one thing he has done is never brought up Santana’s offense because he knows he is going to hit. There is also the matter of things being magnified more at the beginning of the season.

"What he has done has helped us win a few games beyond what he can do at the plate. If that’s what he feels, I’m going to have to sit down and talk with him to make sure he feels better about things," Francona said. "What I don’t want to lose sight of is the day before the season he was all in and I don’t want to let a slow start at the bat ruin that."

Here is a look at Santana’s starts after 13 games since 2011:

2011: 9 for 47 (.191), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 9 SO, .278 OBP

2012: 12 for 49 (.245), 3 HR, 10 RBI, 14 BB, 14 SO, .406 OBP

2013: 17 for 45 (.378), 3 HR, 8 RBI, 8 BB, 7 SO, .472 OBP

2014: 8 for 43 (.186), 0 HR, 1 RBI, 14 BB, 7 SO, .386 OBP

Going into Wednesday’s game, Santana is 4 for 16 with 2 RBI against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. Santana will be the designated hitter for the fourth time this season. He has six starts at third and three at catcher.

"I just have to keep focused and help my team," Santana said.

FRANCONA ON FACING TIGERS: The Tribe ended up finishing only one game behind the Tigers, but Francona said the margin wasn’t as close as that.

"They got ready at the end. They kind of beat up a little bit on us last year. For us to get where we needed to go certainly beating them would help," he said. "They beat you up some times, win some close ones and did what they needed to win the other ones. That’s what a good team does."

McALLISTER SEQUEL: In his last outing, Zach McAllister matched the longest scoreless outing of his career by pitching 7 2/3 innings of five-hit ball. Francona is hoping that the right-hander can get his fastball/changeup combination going again.

"He has the ability to throw fastball on all counts and he throws it a lot. Zach understands when he locates it he can be good. When he does that and then throws his changeup to boot, that’s when he is good," Francona said.

Reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera is 4 for 13 against McAllister.