Carlos Santana's return to Cleveland has been a smashing success


CLEVELAND — Carlos Santana’s last act in Philadelphia was to smash up a couple of big-screen televisions.

Back in his comfort zone of Cleveland, he is simply smashing baseballs.

“Last year was hard because it was difficult for me to play with a new team, new friends, and a new manager,” he said on Monday, the eve of his first All-Star Game. “I played with Cleveland for a long time and it was tough for me. It was a little bit to figure out and I was affected. But I’m happy to come back.”

The Phillies signed Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract before the 2018 season. He hit just .229 with 24 homers, 86 RBIs and a .766 OPS.

The Phils traded him to Seattle in the offseason to open first base for Rhys Hoskins. The Mariners subsequently peddled him to Cleveland, where he played his first eight seasons.

Back with the Indians, Santana is on his way to a career year at age 33. He is hitting .297 with 19 homers, 52 RBIs and a .958 OPS.

“Everyone knows I had power hitting,” he said. “I changed a couple things in the offseason. That helped me a lot. I’m hitting the ball up the middle.”

Santana said he got pull-happy in Philadelphia.

“The Philly stadium is small,” he said. “Right field is like 320 (feet). I wanted to hit to the right side. I wanted to pull. Now, I’m back to trying to hit the ball up the middle.”

Though he struggled in some areas, Santana played in all but one game for the Phillies last season. Even down the stretch, when some players checked out, he posted every night, often out of position at third base. 

Santana did not see the same dedication from some of his teammates and the news came out in March that he ended his stay in Philadelphia by smashing a couple of TVs in a backroom of the clubhouse. He was upset that some players were spending too much time in there playing video games while he and the other eight guys on the field were trying to win a ballgame, often unsuccessfully in September.

“It’s something that happened,” Santana said. “We were fighting with Atlanta and we had lost eight-straight games and I was a little frustrated with that. Everyone knows that that’s not my personality.”

Santana smashed the TVs on the penultimate day of the season. Why didn’t he express his frustration sooner? 

“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t control it.

“I don’t want to talk about that because it’s in the past. I want to stay with my teammates and I’m so happy here in Cleveland. It’s in the past and I don’t want to talk too much.

“I like Philly. It was a great season. The fans knew baseball. Everything was positive.”

Well, not everything. 

But all is good now for Carlos Santana.

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