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Third-base job his, Chisenhall can finally relax

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Lonnie Chisenhall is happy not to be looking over his shoulder this spring. The Indians have made it known that he is their third baseman, allowing him to relax and focus on preparing rather than competing.

"I can just focus on doing the work," Chisenhall said on Saturday. "In the past, I put too much pressure on myself to try to impress the people that made the decisions. This year, I'm coming in with a little different look at it."

In each of the past two seasons, Chisenhall has opened the year with Triple-A Columbus and Cleveland gave the Opening Day job at third base to Jack Hannahan. This year, Hannahan is less than half of a mile away in camp with the Reds, who gave him a two-year contract in the offseason.

This winter, Cleveland acquired utility infielder Mike Aviles and first baseman Mark Reynolds -- both of whom have experience at third base -- but the starting job is reserved for Chisenhall. Cleveland feels the time has come to trust the 24-year-old with the role and see what he can do over a full season in the big leagues.

"Lonnie's development is huge," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It got short-changed a little bit last year, because he got hit [by a pitch]. But he's got as good of bat speed as anybody in camp."

On June 29, Chisenhall suffered a fractured right forearm after being hit by a pitch from Baltimore's Troy Patton. The young third baseman spent roughly two months on the disabled list before returning to the lineup on Sept. 9.

Chisenhall had no restrictions when he rejoined the Tribe and, following a normal offseason schedule, he is back at full strength this spring.

"I feel like it's a normal Spring Training," Chisenhall said. "I'm not coming in with any sort of restrictions or anything like that. It's exciting to come in and not have my training set back or anything like that. It's just completely normal."

In 30 games at Triple-A last year, Chisenhall -- a first-round pick (29th overall) by the Indians in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft -- hit .314 with four home runs and 17 RBIs. He then went on to hit .268 with five homers and 16 RBIs over 43 games with the Indians.

Chisenhall is looking forward to the chance to tackle a full season in the Majors this year.

"I'm just going to try to not to put too much pressure on myself," he said.

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