Numbers don't lie: Chisenhall starts strong

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Players know not to get too wrapped up in statistics during Spring Training. The sample size is small, the competition is often below big league standards and the focus is supposed to be on preparation rather than production.

All of that said, Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall is enjoying his strong start this spring.

"It's early. I have less than 20 at-bats," Chisenhall said Tuesday. "But I'm happy with where I am right now. I feel comfortable at the plate. Every now and then, I feel a little rusty up there on certain pitches and things like that, but I feel good so far."

During Monday's 13-5 victory over the Cubs, Chisenhall had a busy afternoon at Hohokam Stadium. The 24-year-old third baseman went 3-for-3 with a home run, double and three RBIs. He added three runs scored and one walk in the performance.

Tribe manager Terry Francona was impressed with Chisenhall's fourth-inning single off Chicago lefty Brooks Raley.

"It was nice to see him off a lefty," Francona said. "He's a really aggressive kid. The more he stays in the strike zone, it's not going to matter left or right. He's got a really quick bat. It's just recognizing pitches in the strike zone and swinging at pitches he can do something with. That comes with experience."

In parts of two seasons with the Indians, Chisenhall has hit .260 with a .295 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage in 109 games. Over that span, the third baseman has collected 12 homers, 19 doubles and 38 RBIs. He has hit .227 against lefties, compared to .271 off right-handers.

This spring, Chisenhall has hit at a .471 (8-for-17) clip with two homers and eight RBIs through seven Cactus League games.

Unlike the past two springs, Chisenhall entered camp this year with third base reserved for him come Opening Day. With additions such as center fielder Michael Bourn, first baseman Nick Swisher and designated hitter Mark Reynolds, Chisenhall projects to hit in the lower third of Cleveland's lineup.

"Hitting in the bottom of the lineup, you have the ability to score a lot of runs," Chisenhall said. "Getting on base, you know you have the top of the order coming up to drive you in. I look forward to hitting wherever [Francona] puts me -- most likely seven, eight or nine. We've got a good lineup top to bottom."