CLEVELAND -- The Indians knew their outfield was going to change early into the season with the return of Lonnie Chisenhall. The realignment arrived on Thursday, when the Cleveland outfielder was activated from the disabled list.In order to add Chisenhall back into the fold, the Indians optioned center fielder Tyler
CLEVELAND -- The Indians knew their outfield was going to change early into the season with the return of Lonnie Chisenhall. The realignment arrived on Thursday, when the Cleveland outfielder was activated from the disabled list.
In order to add Chisenhall back into the fold, the Indians optioned center fielder Tyler Naquin to Triple-A Columbus and opted to keep Abraham Almonte on the roster. That alters how Tribe manager Terry Francona will mix and match with the outfielders he now has at his disposal.
"It was something that, when I say we stressed over it, I mean it was a lot," Francona said of the roster decision. "I think for where we are now, with [Michael Brantley] maybe not quite ready to play every day, having the switch-hitter [Almonte] is really helpful."
With Naquin back in Columbus, Chisenhall and Almonte are options for center field, along with Austin Jackson. Chisenhall and Almonte can also share time in right field with Brandon Guyer. Brantley will remain the everyday left fielder.
For Thursday's game against the White Sox, Chisenhall got the start in center field, batting sixth. Chisenhall, who played some center field during Spring Training and on his rehab assignment, said he feels comfortable at the position.
"You're able to see the ball a little bit better through the strike zone than you are in the corners," Chisenhall said. "They haven't discussed farther than today. I've played a few games out there and they encouraged it last spring and this spring. As much as they need me to be out there, I can be out there."
The move with Naquin comes after he hit .235 (.572 OPS) in 18 plate appearances out of the gates. Almonte, who made the Opening Day roster after it was determined that Chisenhall would open on the 10-day DL, had hit .250 with an .804 OPS through 17 plate appearances entering Thursday. Almonte is a switch-hitter and offers depth for all three outfield positions.
"I don't think coming off the bench necessarily suits Naquin right now," Francona said. "Nobody's giving up on him being an everyday player. We talked about a lot of stuff, and we're trying to get back to that guy that we saw in May and June and July last year. I thought he showed a lot of maturity, because we knew this was going to be a hard one for him."
Chisenhall injured his right shoulder while running into the right-field wall at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., during a Spring Training game against the Cubs on March 24. In 41 Cactus League at-bats prior to that setback, Chisenhall hit .268 with an .806 OPS. The right fielder went 5-for-15 between four Minor League rehab games with Columbus and Double-A Akron before being activated.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.