Young players learning during pennant race

Young players learning during pennant race

CLEVELAND -- It's rare to find a team competing for a division title and also undergoing a youth movement. Injuries and offensive inconsistency have forced the Indians' hand, causing rookies such as Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis to learn on the go.

In recent years, top prospects such as Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana have reached the top of the organizational ladder when the big league club is out of contention. This year, the Indians' infusion of young talent has taken place while the team is winning.

"It's nice to be battling for first place," Chisenhall said. "To have these guys be a part of it and them to sneak us in the lineup every now and then, that's pretty fun to build on that and develop in crucial situations."

The fact that a number of the Indians' players suited up together at Triple-A Columbus has made their transition easier, Kipnis said.

"It gives me a little confidence boost knowing I'm playing with players I've played alongside with," Kipnis said. "They're doing just fine, so hopefully I can hold my own, too."

In a perfect world, manager Manny Acta said, the young players would remain in Triple-A until they're fully developed. But the Tribe skipper certainly won't complain, given the team's standing.

"In the ideal situation, you probably want those guys to finish their development," Acta said. "But these guys can finish their development over here and help us win."