Chisenhall adjusts mentally to role off bench
DETROIT -- There is always a danger in reading too much into a hot start at the plate. If anything, the solid opening act by Lonnie Chisenhall is a testament to the comfort level he has found in his new role with the Indians.
Chisenhall entered this season unsure of how he would be used by Cleveland manager Terry Francona. Through the first two weeks, which included a recent three-day trip to the paternity list for the birth of his second son, Chisenhall has embraced and excelled in his redefined job off the bench.
"It's important to get off to a quick start," Chisenhall said on Thursday morning. "I'm normally a slow starter, but I've settled down a little bit this year instead of being over-anxious trying to prove myself with one swing. I'm in a different role this year, so I've talked to a few guys who have been in this role before. There's more than one way to approach it, and I kind of like where I'm at right now."
Through seven games, Chisenhall has received three starts at third base and four as the designated hitter. During Thursday's 7-5 loss to the Tigers, Chisenhall served as the DH and churned out a career-high four hits (all singles), including two against ace Justin Verlander and one off lefty Phil Coke. Chisenhall has only had two at-bats against left-handers dating back to Aug. 9 of last season.
With that showing, Chisenhall is now batting .522 (12-for-23) with four doubles and five runs scored. No one is about to make too much of 23 at-bats, but Francona has been pleased with the early returns from the Tribe's former starting third baseman.
"He's done a really good job of staying ready," Francona said. "I think he's been on time more often. I actually think he has the ability that, when he really figures it out, then I think he can be dangerous for a long time. He's got bat speed. He's got the ability to adjust to offspeed pitches. I think there's some thunder in that bat."
Chisenhall said he entered this season with a new mental approach.
"If I started out the game 0-for-1 [in the past], I'd try to get two hits in my second at-bat," Chisenhall said. "That's kind of how I felt. It wasn't beneficial. ... I still feel over-anxious every once in a while. I just step out of the box and gather myself. It's been a long road to get here, but I feel better about where I'm at."