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Carlos Santana Open to Anything Pirates Ask



BRADENTON, Fla. – It remains to be seen how the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to divide first base duties after an eventful offseason.

They signed Carlos Santana as a free agent and traded with the Tampa Bay Rays for Ji-Man Choi. Both play first base.

The easiest thing for manager Derek Shelton to do is have one be the starting first baseman and the other be the primary designated hitter.

Yet, it is not all that simple as Santana is 36 and Choi 31. Both are at an age where they could use the partial rest that comes with serving as the DH.

Then Andrew McCutchen figures into the equation, even though he is an outfielder. McCutchen is 36 and Shelton wants to get him some starts at DH, too.

Shelton says the Pirates will formulate a plan as they go along through the exhibition season, which begins Saturday.


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As far as Santana is concerned, he is open to anything.

“If I can be in the lineup, I’m fine,” Santana said Tuesday before the Pirates’ spring training workout. “Wherever the team needs me, I’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter. If they need to play first base, I can do it. If they need me at DH, I can do it. Anything that will help my team, I’m fine.”

Santana made 74 starts at first base and 47 at DH last season, which he split between the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners. Choi started 92 games at first base for the Rays in 2022 and just 10 as the DH.

Santana has been working out daily at first base since arriving in camp. He is acclimating himself to the rest of the Pirates’ infielders – second Rodolfo Castro, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and shortstop Oneil Cruz.

Choi, too, is willing to do whatever is asked.

“It depends on Shelty, really,” he said.

Santana’s batting average was just .202 last season but his on-base percentage was .316 and he hit 19 homers in 131 games, including 15 in 79 games after being traded to the Mariners.

Despite the low average, Santana insists he can still be a good major-league hitter. The banning of infield shifts should help the pull hitter.

“Yeah, I mean I’m preparing in the offseason,” Santana said of his hitting. “I’m working hard. I think I’m going to have fun this year and give help to my team.

“The last three years, the shift is the most effective play against me. But I’m very happy that they take it off this year. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s going to be good for me.”

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