Chisenhall finding role, thriving for Tribe

Chisenhall finding role, thriving for Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Lonnie Chisenhall entered this season unsure about what his role would be with the Indians. He knew manager Terry Francona would work him into the lineup, but there was little clarity and certainly no guarantees when it came to the frequency of at-bats.

Chisenhall decided to put the questions to the side and embrace each game that included his name on the lineup sheet. As the calendar flips to June, he has become a regular part of the lineup as a part-timer at third base, designated hitter and, more recently, first base.

"It's nice, because I feel like I've earned it. That was the big goal," Chisenhall said. "Last year it was a little different. They told me I was the third baseman out of spring. This year, it feels different. Nothing was given to me this year. I was coming in without a title.

"Now, it's just a good feeling knowing that what I'm doing on the field is helping make the decision harder on them every day. It's been good so far."

Heading into Sunday's game with the Rockies, Chisenhall had an impressive .369/.424/.554 slash line to go along with three home runs, 15 doubles, 15 RBIs and 22 runs in 43 games (130 at-bats). Most of the lefty-swinging corner infielder's at-bats have come against right-handed pitching, but Chisenhall has been earning more time against lefties, too.

Chisenhall thrived last September, when Francona limited him to one at-bat against a lefty. Chisenhall excelled this April, when he again was restricted to one at-bat off a southpaw. He was recently allowed to start two games against a lefty (Monday versus Jose Quintana in Chicago and Saturday versus Colorado's Franklin Morales) and is now hitting .563 (9-for-16) against left-handers this year.

Entering this season, Chisenhall hit just .194 in 124 at-bats off lefties across the 2011-13 seasons.

Chisenhall believes the strong showing so far off lefties is the result of work he has put in behind the scenes with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who throws from the left side.

"I'm happy," Chisenhall said, "because the work I put in starting September of last year ... that's kind of been the whole process leading up to it. Just to have success and have it early, it's definitely reassuring."

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.