ST. PETERSBURG -- Lonnie Chisenhall has been getting some extra work at first base during pregame drills for the better part of the past two weeks. In the eighth inning of Saturday's blowout loss to the Rays, he finally got to try his hand at the position in a game situation.
With Tampa Bay holding a 7-0 lead, Indians manager Terry Francona pulled first baseman Nick Swisher from the game and sent Chisenhall to the position for the first time in his career.
"I think we always try to turn something into a positive," Francona said. "That's our responsibility. One inning certainly isn't going to make [much difference], but it's a start. You're always trying to think of something during the game to help somewhere, whether it's getting a guy an at-bat, getting a guy off his feet, something to try to help."
A couple weeks ago, Chisenhall was asked if he was willing to give first base a try, and the third baseman obliged.
"It doesn't matter to me," Chisenhall said on Sunday. "You want to be in the lineup. You want to help the team win if you're swinging the bat well, or there's chances for you to come in defensively, or you're running and come in to play defense.
"The more options the better at this point. Last night they started a lefty, yet if you pinch-hit, you have the ability to go to more than one position. That's kind of how I look at it."
Through 25 games this season, Chisenhall has hit .348 with seven doubles and 12 runs scored for the Indians, who have used him nearly exclusively against right-handed pitching. That approach by Francona has paid off with Chisenhall, who leads the team's "regulars" with a .321/.379/.500 slash line (118 plate appearances) dating back to Sept. 1 of last year.
Chisenhall has started 11 games as a designated hitter and 10 as a third baseman this season for Cleveland. He does not want to be known as a utility player, but he also is increasingly understanding of the idea of adding more versatility to his game.
"You don't want to be labeled as a utility guy or a non-position guy too early," Chisenhall said. "Fortunately, I feel like I can play just about anywhere. So, it's not a problem. I'm here and I'm here to help the team now. It's not [like] I have to play third base or I only want to play third base. I just want to do whatever it takes."