Carlos Santana made his professional debut as a first baseman Wednesday, as the Indians lost to the San Diego Padres 9-2 at Goodyear Ballpark.

In six innings at first, Santana had nine total chances and snagged three ground balls, all with nary a slip-up. He did not look like the incarnation of Eddie Murray or Keith Hernandez, but for a catcher who used to play third base, Santana looked relatively at ease.

''I thought he looked comfortable,'' Indians manager Many Acta said. ''He made all the plays and tried to turn a double play, which is one of the toughest plays on the field to make.''

With a runner on first in the fifth inning, Santana scooped up a bouncer and threw to second for the force, but the relay back to first [pitcher covering] was late.

Asked before the game what the toughest part of playing first might be, Santana smiled and said, ''I don't know. Talk to me after the game.''

Why is Santana playing first when he is the Tribe's No. 1 catcher?

To keep him fresh and healthier when he does catch. Moreover, over the long haul, playing first and (being a part-time DH) can help to prolong his career.

Santana probably will start at first twice more during the exhibition season; he also will continue to take ground balls and be tutored on positioning.