As the injury bug continues to sweep its way through the Cleveland Indians‘ roster, reserve players are being called upon to fill in the gaps. Based on a depleted 25-man roster and the fact Lonnie Chisenhall was one of the most productive Tribe hitters in April, he deserves to see a rise in his at bats. Manager Terry Francona needs to loosen the leash he has held over Chisenhall by only allowing the 25-year-old to face left-handed pitching in one at bat, compared to 61 plate appearances against the opposite handedness.
Chisenhall looks much more comfortable in the box this season hitting the ball to both ends of the field. As Michael Bourn, Jason Giambi and Jason Kipnis continue to nurse injuries, Chisenhall should be promoted during this stretch to see what he is capable of against right-handed pitching. If this trial and error works out, the Tribe depth chart would become much deeper when the team resurfaces healthy.
While Kipnis still has 3-5 weeks on the disabled list, Mike Aviles should get the brunt of the work at second base with Jose Ramirez and Elliot Johnson thrown in occasionally. It would be a waste for the Indians to put Aviles at third base taking out one of Chisenhall, Carlos Santana or Yan Gomes.
It will be interesting to see how the Tribe handle these injuries early on, as they faced similar obstacles last season when Nick Swisher, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Bourn all missed time last year. The emphasis placed on making the Wahoos balanced is being put to the test as Francona’s group tries to survive losing eight of their last 10 games all while replacing their All-Star second baseman.
The opportunity for Chisenhall to prove himself against a lefty adversary won’t come until Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays‘ Eric Bedard. The 35-year-old veteran hurler will give Chisenhall all he can handle as they have never faced each other accompanied with Bedard pitching well in his last 11 innings giving up just two earned runs.