Carlos Santana gave Indians fans a glimpse of the future on Wednesday in a Cactus League game at Goodyear Ballpark.

No, he wasn't crouched behind the plate coaxing one great pitch after another from the pitching staff. He wasn't huddled on the mound with manager Manny Acta and starter Carlos Carrasco discussing strategy. Nor was he throwing out a fleet member of the San Diego Padres at second base.

Santana, the Indians catcher of today and tomorrow, was playing first base.

"That's my first game ever there in my career," said Santana.

He did better than the Indians, who lost, 9-2, to the Padres. Santana played six innings, handled nine chances flawlessly, doubled and scored the Indians' first run.

"I wasn't nervous," said Santana. "Three years ago I was playing third base for the Dodgers. I'll catch, play first, third or the outfield. Wherever the manager wants me, I'll play ... and I'll play hard."

Acta says Santana will make two more starts at first before the Indians open the regular season April 1. How many he makes after that depends on what his body feels like under the strain of being the regular catcher. He had season-ending knee surgery in September, but has gone through spring training at full speed.

"The only reason we'll play Carlos at first base during the regular season is to keep his legs fresh," said Acta.

Santana could also DH, but most managers don't like to DH their catchers in case the starter is injured during the same game. If a team is carrying only two catchers, that means a team would have to lose the DH and have the pitcher hit.