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Chisenhall, Indians working to fix issue at plate

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CLEVELAND -- Lonnie Chisenhall was one of the Indians' hottest hitters throughout Spring Training. Once the calendar flipped to April, the young third baseman cooled off considerably in the batter's box.

Indians manager Terry Francona said hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo believe they have spotted the problem, and Chisenhall has been working hard to correct the issue.

"All spring he was thinking left-center," Francona explained. "Not necessarily wanting to hit the ball there, but being lined up so he could cover the plate. And he did it extremely well. I think as he continued into the season, his batting stance started to close off more and more and more, and I don't think he realized it.

"Ty's trying to get him back more to even. Now, setting his sights on left-center is great. I just think it all of a sudden became a little more physical also, and he got himself into a position where, for him to get to the ball and square it up, he had to get more out front than he normally does.

"He actually got himself into some positions where it didn't look like he had a real quick bat. And he has as quick a bat as anybody you're ever going to see."

Entering Thursday's game with the Red Sox, Chisenhall was hitting .200 (8-for-40) with one home run, six RBIs and 13 strikeouts in 11 games for the Indians. That is a drastic drop-off from his showing in Spring Training, when Chisenhall hit at a .400 clip with four homers and 12 RBIs in 24 Cactus League games.

Francona has also been trying to find the appropriate games to give the left-handed-hitting Chisenhall a day off against left-handed starters. So far this season, Chisenhall has been in the lineup against lefties Felix Doubront (Tuesday), Jose Quintana (Friday), David Price (April 7) and Mark Buehrle (April 4), but out of the lineup for lefties Jon Lester (Thursday), Chris Sale (Saturday), Andy Pettitte (April 9) and Matt Moore (April 5).

Francona said there has not been an exact science behind when to start or sit Chisenhall.

"That's a hard one," Francona said. "Like when we faced Price, Price is as good a lefty as there is in the league. But, at the time we had two guys [Mike Aviles and Ryab Raburn] that could play -- two righties -- and he had sat the one before [against Moore]. I thought, 'OK, he might run into a fastball here, which he did [with a home run off Price].

"I'm just trying to balance his development, and us winning. I'm trying to balance that. If that was a convoluted answer, it's because I spend a lot of time thinking about it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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