It appears that the Indians third base job will be an open competition beginning next month in spring training. The man in the middle of that competition could very well be former catcher Carlos Santana.

Santana recently told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.com that if the regular season began tomorrow, he would expect to be the Tribe’s starting third baseman. Santana has been the team’s opening day catcher for the last three seasons.

“Right now, I see myself preparing to play third base, no other position,” Santana was quoted as saying. (All Santana’s quotes were translated from the Spanish version of the ESPN story).

GM Chris Antonetti doesn’t believe in handing out starting positions in January unless your last name is Masterson, Swisher or Kipnis. But he certainly didn’t act as if Santana was out of line for saying what he did after losing the starting catcher’s job to Yan Gomes in the second half of last season.

“We have not made a decision at third base,” said Antonetti. “That’s what spring training is for. But Carlos has gotten a tremendous head start due to the work he’s put in this offseason.

“It started with him working at our complex in the Dominican Republic with our coaches. And it transitioned into winter ball.”

Santana, playing for Leones del Escogido, made three errors in his first five games at third base. In his next 18 games, he made five. No doubt, that’s a lot of E5s and looks a lot his experience at the hot corner in 2006 in the minors with the Dodgers.