Carlos Santana logged less time at first base last year than he did in 2011, and that trend probably will continue.

With more than enough players qualified to play first, there is little reason to move Santana from behind the plate, except to give him an occasional break from catching by using him at designated hitter. Nick Swisher will be the everyday first baseman and career first baseman Mark Reynolds will man the DH spot most of the time.

“We need to play (backup catcher) Lou Marson enough that he can be useful,” manager Terry Francona said Sunday. “But those things have a way of working themselves out.”

In his 2½ years in the big leagues, Santana has started 223 games behind the plate, 83 at first (20 last year) and 33 at DH. If Francona has to move players around, he won’t be shy about it.

“I think this is one of the most versatile teams I’ve ever seen,” the manager said. “Mike Aviles comes to mind first. We were in Minnesota, and I put him in right field. He hadn’t been out there.

“A ball went over his head — I don’t know if he could have gotten it anyway — but I had enough confidence in him to think, ‘Just go do it.’ And with some reps, he’ll be fine.”

Francona was talking about a situation that occurred two years ago, when he managed the Red Sox and Aviles was one of his utility players.

Aviles has played mostly shortstop, third and second, but Francona plans to make him available for left and right.

Bucking a trend