CLEVELAND -- Lonnie Chisenhall hopes to be back in Major League games before the end of this season, but the sidelined Indians outfielder is currently monitoring the Minor League standings. He knows that any postseason runs for Cleveland's affiliates can help provide chances for rehab games.
"The last thing I want to do," Chisenhall said on Tuesday afternoon, "is be playing catchup in September against Major League arms when we're in the division race. I'm keeping an eye on teams who are in first place down there."
This is familiar territory for Chisenhall, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list due to a severe left calf strain. A year ago, the veteran outfielder was dealing with a right calf issue -- one that flared up multiple times in 2017 and was also an issue earlier this year. Chisenhall returned in time to get in four Major League games at the end of the season in an attempt to be ready for the American League Division Series.
Chisenhall went 0-for-5 in seven plate appearances in the ALDS defeat against the Yankees, and he knows now that his offensive timing was not ready. With that history in mind, Chisenhall is hoping to find a way to get properly prepared in the weeks leading up to the postseason this year.
As far as Chisenhall is concerned, his season is not over. He also understands that the clock is ticking.
"I'll end up in a gray area," said Chisenhall, who has hit .297 with an .872 OPS in 111 games over the 2017-18 seasons combined. "I just want to end the year with a clean bill of health or come back with a clean bill of health. I don't want to shortchange any of the preparation. I'm going to have to jump through some hoops twice, three times.
"I think we've made some adjustments for preparing to come back. It's just going to end up at a bad time. Hopefully, some teams make some playoff runs in the Minors."
With Chisenhall out, along with Tyler Naquin (right hip surgery) and Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder surgery), the Indians are currently employing platoons in both center and right field. Leonys Martin and Rajai Davis are divvying up the innings in center, while Melky Cabrera and Brandon Guyer are handling the load in right.
Due to the setbacks with both calf muscles over the past two seasons, Chisenhall has undergone a series of tests in an effort to decipher the source of the issue. He had bloodwork done, had his nutrition habits studied and even had his gait analyzed. Chisenhall (a free agent at the end of the season) said no one has been able to figure out why he has experienced so many problems.
The good news is that Chisenhall has advanced to hitting off a machine and has resumed playing catch in his return-to-play rehab program. The outfielder has also been cleared for light jogging, along with running in an alterG treadmill. He continues to take steps forward, but there are still a lot of factors involved in the potential timing of his return to the Tribe.
"I don't know [when], but it'd be nice to have him back," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It gives you another option and, you know, we wouldn't have to play him every day, because we have other guys. But, it sure would be nice to have him back."
• Tribe catcher Yan Gomes was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday after sitting out the past three games with right hamstring tendinitis. Francona noted that Gomes will start two out of the next three games and the manager also raved about the job Roberto Perez did while Cleveland's No. 1 catcher was sidelined.
"I thought 'Berto did a really good job," Francona said. "I know both of them want to be everyday guys. And I understand that and I respect that. But, as an organizational thing ... to have somebody back there where the game doesn't get altered -- regardless of who's pitching -- yeah, that's [helpful]."
• The Indians have been able to use the past two-plus weeks to get a feel for how their bullpen works with Brad Hand and Adam Cimber now in the fold. It has also been a week since Cleveland acquired Martin from the Tigers. Francona said he likes how his new-look roster functions.
"I think [functions] is a good word," Francona said. "The guys we have complement each other really well. You have Martin and Raj. You have Melky and Guyer. You added a lefty back-of-the-bullpen guy and a righty that can pitch the end of the game or in big situations. So it's not just what their numbers are, but they complement each other really well."
• Right-hander Cody Anderson (right elbow, 60-day DL) is still working through a throwing program at the Indians' complex in Arizona. Francona noted on Tuesday that, if Anderson is able to get into games in September, the team's preference would be to have it come in a Minor League setting.