Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting as well as he ever has in his short major league career. But he is still having trouble getting playing time since there are two other guys on the Cleveland Indians who also play third base. There is one obvious solution to this problem, and Chisenhall is exploring that possibility right now.
The 25-year-old third baseman has started taking ground balls at first base and shagging fly balls during this past week. Moving from third to first base should be an easy transition for Chisenhall, with first base being a much less demanding position from a defensive standpoint. Moving to the outfield will definitely be trickier, but Chisenhall is a good enough athlete to make the necessary adjustments.
This would obviously be a beneficial move for both the Indians and Chisenhall. It allows Terry Francona to have more flexibility when putting together his lineups and will allow Chisenhall to play more often. Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles are the primary outfield replacements right now for the Tribe, and neither are ideal. Raburn is sub-replacement level defender in the outfield who is struggling at the plate right now, so he is basically just playing against left-handed pitching. Aviles is more known for his infield defensive prowess, so Francona tries to avoid playing him in the outfield as much as possible. Nick Swisher has also seen time in the outfield in the past, but he has yet to start a game in the outfield this year, so it seems he is no longer an option.
There is plenty of opportunity if Chisenhall is able to make the transition to the outfield. This isn’t a permanent move by any means, as his primary position will still be third base. But it is definitely a good idea for the Tribe to explore this option.