"All of my life," Santana said on Tuesday, prior to homering in a 6-2 win over the A's.
How was it so easy, then, for the Indians to convince Santana to stop using the technique?
"It's a lot easier when you allow the guys to hit rock bottom a little bit," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Since late May, when Acta and former hitting coach Jon Nunnally talked Santana into stopping the tapping timing mechanism, the catcher and part-time first baseman has experienced more success in the batter's box. If there was a transitional period for Santana, he appears to be over it.
Over 80 games dating to May 31 in Toronto, where Santana eliminated the toe tap as a way to reduce the amount of body movement in his swing, he has hit .258 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs. He began Tuesday with a .350 on-base percentage and a .485 slugging percentage in that span.
In his first 47 games of the season preceding the move, Santana hit .214/.350/.371 with six home runs and 22 RBIs for Cleveland.
"The first time I used the no tap, it was in Toronto," Santana said. "They said this is an approach I needed to do. I've kept continuing it. I don't think about it. It's just see the ball and swing hard. Right now, I feel like normal. I feel normal, like I did when I used the tap."
Santana added that fellow big league hitters Robinson Cano, David Ortiz and Melky Cabrera were among those who encouraged him to listen to his hitting coach's advice about ridding of the toe tap. The catcher hit .324 in his first 10 games after making the switch, then faded with a .206 average over the next 37 games.
The switch-hitting Santana is batting .292 in the 33 games since that slide.
"He's not a finished product yet," Acta said. "We all know that. That [average is] going to come. ... He's got some work to do still from the left side."