Hannahan could be key to stretch run

Hannahan could be key to stretch run

Hannahan could be key to stretch run
CLEVELAND -- Jack Hannahan played an integral role in the Indians' torrid start this season, and the slick-fielding third baseman is expected to see plenty of time on the field again down the stretch.

Increased playing time and improved performance often go hand in hand. Hannahan has been receiving more starts at the hot corner of late, and the third baseman has seen a spike in his offensive output as a result.

"It's huge," Hannahan said. "There's a comfort level there. If you haven't played in a long time, it's always tough to get in there and kind of get in your groove. When you get consistent at-bats, you feel comfortable and you're not searching so much."

Indians manager Manny Acta has a few reasons for turning to Hannahan on a more regular basis right now. Rookie third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has struggled at the plate, Hannahan is one of baseball's best defenders at the hot corner and designated hitter Travis Hafner is on the disabled list with a strained tendon on the bottom of his right foot.

With Hafner sidelined, possibly for the rest of the season, Acta plans on cycling different players through the DH role. For Wednesday's game against the Mariners, for example, Hannahan was at third and Chisenhall served as the Tribe's DH.

In the nightcap of Tuesday's doubleheader against Seattle, Hannahan set a career high with four hits in Cleveland's 12-7 loss.

"[Hannahan] had some really good at-bats," Acta said. "He was using the whole field against lefties and righties. It's good to see him good. He's going to get more playing time going forward, especially now that we don't have Hafner here. We should be able to distribute some of those at-bats."

Entering Wednesday, the 31-year-old Hannahan was hitting .231 with five homers and 26 RBIs in 93 games. Over his past eight games, however, he had hit at a .417 (10-for-24) clip. During a 38-game stretch from June 6-Aug. 12, Hannahan hit only .179 with 22 strikeouts.

Hannahan admitted that he was hindered by a right hamstring issue throughout June and July, but said the minor injury was improved of late.

"I feel like I'm healthy now," Hannahan said. "I was trying to play through a bad hammy before. It's getting back to where I was and feeling healthy. And I'm using a heavier bat now, and I kind of feel like it makes me use my hands more. That's all I've been thinking about."