PHILADELPHIA: Now that Lonnie Chisenhall has been optioned to Columbus, manager Terry Francona will reshuffle the deck to fill the hole at third base.
Chisenhall started at third in 25 of the Indians’ first 35 games, and Mark Reynolds got seven starts at third.
Reynolds is the wild card in the lineup and in the infield, because he has started 12 games at designated hitter and 16 at first base.
“Mark certainly will play third the majority of the time,” Francona said Tuesday. “And Mike Aviles can do that, too.”
Francona will be careful not to overuse Reynolds at a position he has played only one-third of the season.
“If he played [there] every day, it would be one thing,” the manager said, “But I don’t want to run him into the ground. I do think he likes it, though.”
Undoubtedly, Reynolds, who leads the team in home runs and RBI, will be in the lineup almost every day, but he won’t always be at third.
At the outset of the season, Reynolds was expected to be the Tribe’s designated hitter most of the time, but he has spent only one more game in that spot than Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher (11 apiece). Now that Reynolds is the club’s No. 1 third baseman, Francona will employ his other options a little more.
“Things can change when guys get off the DL or guys get nicked up,” the manager said. “But Giambi can DH, and on days when Yan Gomes catches and Carlos Santana is at first, we can get Swisher in at DH. We try to keep all our guys fresh and productive. And because they embrace it [switching positions], it makes it fun.”
Chisenhall was batting only .213 with three homers and 11 RBI and never got into a hot streak, even for a little while.
“He basically told us that he was worried, looking at his batting average and his run production,” Francona said. “It kind of snowballed on him a little. This will give him a chance.”
The plan is for Chisenhall to regain his confidence and his short stroke at the plate and return to Cleveland some time this season.
“He’s a young guy, and he’s going to be really good,” Francona said. “I went through this myself. This is a hard game, and you just make it harder when you put pressure on yourself.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.