DETROIT: Coming into this season, Lonnie Chisenhall might not have been sure he’d be part of the Indians’ future.
But the 25-year-old third baseman is erasing doubts by the day.
Chisenhall left Comerica Park after a 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers with a .522 batting average in seven games. As the Indians split the two-game series against the Tigers, Chisenhall went 6-for-8 with a double, including the first four-hit day of his career Thursday.
Before Thursday’s games, Chisenhall ranked fifth in the American League with a 1.082 OPS among players with at least 20 at-bats. Chisenhall, who was batting .194 against left-handers for his career, got his first hit off one this year, singling off Phil Coke in the sixth.
“He hung in there on a lefty, he hasn’t faced too many. He’s really doing a good job,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after the loss.
Chisenhall didn’t miss a beat after his three-day paternity leave last week. He stayed at home in Cleveland for games Thursday through Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. He rejoined the team Sunday in Chicago, but was not in the lineup. His wife Meredith gave birth to their second son, Cannon, on April 10.
“He went to the ballpark twice while he was gone, which I thought was smart,” Francona said of Chisenhall, who was hitting .400 when he left the team. “You don’t want to lose what you have. You have obligations at home, but he snuck away for an hour, which is good.
“As guys mature, knowing the league and knowing their body and knowing their swing, as long as they stay healthy you’re going to see a better player.”
Francona said Chisenhall’s timing is where he’s most improved.
“I think he’s been on time more often,” Francona said. “I think he has the ability that when he really figures it out, he can be dangerous for a long time. He’s got bat speed, he’s got the ability to adjust to off-speed pitches. I think there’s some thunder in that bat.”
WATCH OUT FOR MIGGY — Francona didn’t seriously consider having Cody Allen intentionally walk 2013 American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera in the eighth inning of the Tribe’s 3-2 victory Wednesday night. Cabrera’s single to left scored Rajai Davis from third for what turned out to be the Tigers’ final run.
“You always think about things like that when it comes to Miggy because he’s such a [threat],” Francona said. “It’s the middle of April and it’s cold. When he’s in mid-season form you think about it more than that. But putting the tying run on base there, I think we believe in Cody so much that I’d rather … with the wind, to hit one out yesterday you’re going to have to hit it pretty good. That ball wasn’t going anywhere.
“Saying that, you’re never happy with him at the plate. But sometimes as a manager you can cover your [butt] a little bit and it doesn’t put your team in the best position to win.”
BAUER SHINES — If the Indians need to call up a starting pitcher, Trevor Bauer looks to be the choice. Bauer pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Columbus Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens. Bauer gave up five hits and struck out nine. In 12 innings of two games, Bauer has totaled 18 strikeouts and three walks and compiled an 0.75 ERA.
— Marla Ridenour