Chisenhall's goal for upcoming season is consistency
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If fans were able to choose walk-up songs for players, Billy Joel's "I Go to Extremes" might be the runaway winner for Lonnie Chisenhall.
After establishing himself as an every day player last season, Chisenhall is hoping to build on that and establish more consistency both at the plate and on defense.
"It's a long season. At some point you realize you are not going to hit .400," he said. "It all averages out at the end of the year. When you are able to stand back and look you want to be consistent."
Chisenhall went into spring training last year not knowing if he would make the roster. After proving he deserved to be back in the lineup, Chisenhall was ranked fourth in the American League in batting average at the All-Star break (.328). Once he returned from the break, he batted just .218 through the end of the season.
It was the second straight year that Chisenhall had a major slump. In 2013 h batted .213 at the start of the season before being demoted to Triple-A Columbus.
"Last year he got into a tailspin and didn't know how to get out of it. At the start (of last season) it was so easy and he got hits all over the place that when it started to go the other way he had a little bit of a tough time," Chisenhall said.
What gives Chisenhall and the Indians front office confidence is that Chisenhall finished last year with a .280 batting average while playing in a career-best 142 games. His OPS of .716 was 15th in the majors.
A big credit for Chisenhall's rebound was not sulking after losing his job at third base. He worked to remain productive and ready. As a pinch-hitter last season he was 6 for 13. Francona also added that Chisenhall was one of the Indians better base runners during the second half of last season despite his offensive slump.
Besides working on consistency at the plate, Chisenhall is hoping to be better defensively. His 18 errors ended up leading the team.
"Just like on offense you can be in defensive slumps. When you become defensive you're not aggressive going after balls," Chisenhall said. "The first two months we were shuffling the defense. With so many moving parts it wasn't easy. We're going to more of an up-tempo system (during workouts)."
During the offseason, Chisenhall tweaked his conditioning program. The result was more muscle development and less body fat.
Whenever Chisenhall goes through another tough stretch, he received something late last season to serve as positive motivation. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, he got the photos of his five hits in the June 9 game at Texas where he became the fourth player in MLB history to have five hits, three home runs and nine RBI in the same game. That performance came in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak.
"That photo serves as a great reminder to a great game. Now it is time to get in baseball shape and do what I can to help the team win," he said.