The Indians made their first significant roster change on Monday, optioning third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to Triple-A Columbus.
The Indians have had to juggle the roster due to injuries, but the decision to option Chisenhall was the first roster decision based on performance.
The move did not come as a surprise as Chisenhall was hitting just .213 with three homers in 26 games. He also had just three walks compared to 22 strikeouts in 94 at bats. The struggles even carried into his game defensively as he had four errors.
During spring training, Chisenhall hit .400 with four homers and 12 RBI. But the bat did not carry over into the start of the regular season.
Chisenhall’s struggles against lefties have also continued, going just 2-for-22 (.091) prior to his demotion. The last straw might have come on Sunday in Detroit when he made a costly throwing error and struggled at the plate.
Bottom line, it was time to make a change. Barring an injury forcing him back into the big league mix, he might spend a considerable amount of time in Columbus.
Chisenhall needs the chance to take a deep breath, relax and find a way to get his talents at the plate to show consistently. The Indians still believe he is their third baseman, but he was pressing at the plate.
The Indians could ill afford to be too patient and let Chisenhall work through his struggles at the major league level. If they were not in contention, they could run him out there every day and evaluate him at the end of the season. But patience is a lot shorter when you’re expecting to contend for the postseason.
With Mike Aviles and Mark Reynolds in house, the Indians are no worse defensively, but are more reliable offensively. Chisenhall had options remaining, allowing the Indians to send him to the minors.
It appears that Reynolds will get the lion’s share of playing time at third base, opening up the designated hitter role to rotate players in.
Cleveland has not seen the last of Chisenhall, but how he responds to the demotion will determine how soon he gets back. If he finds his swing again and the approach returns, he could be back at the hot corner very soon.