Goodyear, Ariz.: Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall will start the season on the 10-day disabled list, opening the door for Abraham Almonte to make the Opening Day roster.
Chisenhall sustained a mild sprain of the AC joint in his right shoulder when he crashed into an outfield wall last week, and the club wanted to let him rest for three days before evaluating him. He is nearing a return but won’t have enough at-bats to be ready for the Indians’ April 3 season opener against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.
The Indians hope to have Chisenhall activated for their April 11 home opener against the Chicago White Sox. It’s the second consecutive season Chisenhall will open on the disabled list.
“He feels a heck of a lot better than he did last year at this time,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But he was probably going to get two at-bats on Friday. That’s just not ready. And I think he understands that.”
Almonte has had a strong spring, hitting .383 with three home runs, three doubles and 12 RBI heading into Wednesday’s game.
“I think everybody who’s seen Abe this spring is happy the way it works, because he really is deserving,” Francona said. “He’s done a terrific job.”
Almonte joins Tyler Naquin, Brandon Guyer and Austin Jackson as players securely in the Opening Day outfield.
The remaining question mark is Michael Brantley, who has played well in his recent, limited Cactus League action, going 7-for-19 with three extra-base hits. He played in back-to-back games for the third time on Wednesday and is slated to play in a third consecutive game on Thursday.
His swing has him looking like the Brantley of old, but the question remains as to what kind of workload his shoulder can handle.
Brantley’s status is in part what has kept the Indians from finalizing their Opening Day roster, along with their pending decision of whom to play at third base, assuming Jose Ramirez slides to second base during Jason Kipnis’ absence.
“What I did tell Brant this morning was, ‘Don’t read anything into this,’?” Francona said of Brantley. “‘There’s no pressure on you. Every decision is for the person, and we’ll figure out the team part of it.’ I wanted to make sure that he understood that [there’s no] pressure on him.
“He has to be ready. He’s done such a good job. What we really care about is him continuing to be healthy, whether that’s the first day, the third day, the fifth day.”
The Indians’ plan is for Ramirez to not become a part of the outfield picture. After he spent last year at left field and third base, the club would like to keep him in the infield. Ramirez is slated to start at second base for the first few weeks of the season with Kipnis dealing with shoulder inflammation.
“He could do it, but I just think for who we have, he’s such a good infielder,” Francona said. “Wherever you put him in the infield, he’s a pretty good defender. … You just don’t want to weaken yourself too much if you can help it.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.