Indians rely on Chisenhall in supporting role

Indians rely on Chisenhall in supporting role

CLEVELAND -- Lonnie Chisenhall might just have one home run in 2014, but not many people will notice with him batting .366 through 33 games entering Wednesday.

After enduring a frustrating 2013 season that saw him post a .225 / .270 / .398 slash line and a .668 OPS, the infielder has seen renewed success at the plate while embracing his new everyman role with the Tribe. The biggest difference, Chisenhall said, has been his calmer mental approach and an increased willingness to settle for contact.

"I feel like last year, every time I went up there, I was trying to hit a homer or do a lot of damage, too much, to where it wasn't to my benefit," Chisenhall said. "This year, if I get a good pitch, take a single the other way or up the middle or something like that. Move it to the next guy."

Instead of winning an everyday starting spot right out of the gate, as was the case in 2013, the team has only worked him into the lineup whenever possible. Even so, Chisenhall is on pace to finish the first half of the season with more hits, doubles and walks than he had through the All-Star break last year.

"We pretty much gave him the [third-base] job and he kind of felt like he hadn't gotten the job," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "This year, he doesn't get the job, and instead he's like, 'Hey, I'll do whatever you ask me to do.'"

Chisenhall's versatility in the field has raised his value in Cleveland as well. With regular third baseman Carlos Santana slumping -- he has hit a paltry .148 with just eight extra-base hits since April 18 entering Wednesday -- Chisenhall has been able to make 12 starts at the hot corner, along with 14 starts as the designated hitter and two appearances at first base.

"And think about that in the ninth or the 10th inning of a game to know that he can [play at first base]," Francona said. "I would not be shocked at some point if he works his way into a game in the outfield. It'll probably happen on a day where something goes wrong, and it'll probably be a good thing for us, because we'll put him out there and he'll do fine."

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