Lonnie Chisenhall has played the last three seasons at third base for the Cleveland Indians, but has yet to take control of the position.
Regarded as one of the Indians’ top prospects, Chisenhall hit .255 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs as a rookie in 2011. The next season, Chisenhall lost out on the job to Jack Hanrahan and played in just 46 games, but did post his best average of his career at .268.
Last year, it looked as if Chisenhall had finally emerged as the everyday third baseman, but then things fell apart for him. Chisenhall struggled out of the gate and was demoted to Triple A in the middle of the season before being called back up. In 94 appearances on the season, Chisenhall hit just .225 and really struggled against left-handers. Chisenhall was just 4-of-36 against southpaws last year for an average of .111.
Chisenhall will open Spring Training as the starter at third and this will more than likely be his last shot at the job. He will face some competition from a number of players on the roster.
Mike Aviles will be back as a utility infielder and could be in position to get playing time at third after seeing time there last season. The Indians also signed David Adams, who played third in 31 games for the New York Yankees last season. Both players will push Chisenhall.
The Indians also have a third intriguing possibility at third in Carlos Santana. Santana has played catcher, first base and as the designated hitter in the past for the Indians, but is looking to try and play third this season. Yan Gomes has emerged as the team’s catcher, so the Indians are looking for at bats for Santana elsewhere. Santana has been experimenting at third base in the Dominican Winter League and there has been talk of him playing there some during Spring Training. Only time will tell if the experiment is actually a possibility or not.
Chisenhall still controls his own destiny right now. If he produces during Spring Training, the job will be his.