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Chisenhall providing spark in Tribe's lineup

ARLINGTON -- The potential has always been there for Lonnie Chisenhall. More than two months into this season, the Indians' corner infielder is just finally putting it together.

"He's been a big part of about everything we've done," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "He's played first. He's played third. He's DH'd. He's hitting lefties. He's been in the middle, it seems like, all our rallies. He's running the bases. He's been a big shot for us."

Heading into Monday's action, Chisenhall remained 20 plate appearances behind the current minimum requirement (195.3 plate appearances) for the batting race, which he would lead at the moment with his .365 average. The left-handed-hitting first and third baseman should cross that milestone before the end of this month.

Among the 294 Major Leaguers who entered Monday with at least 100 plate appearances, Chisenhall (176 plate appearances) would rank first in average, sixth in on-base percentage (.413) and 11th in OPS (.951). Through 50 games played, Chisenhall also had four home runs, 15 doubles, 23 RBIs, 26 runs scored and a .538 slugging percentage.

Chisenhall was hitting .336 (44-for-131) against right-handers and .520 (13-for-25) against lefties, entering Monday.

"He's played himself into getting more responsbility," Francona said. "I think we always hoped he would. I'm not sure he quite always understood that. I think he's starting to now and he's realizing that, by playing the game the right way, you gain trust and you're accountable. We're trying to find at-bats for him now. That's a good feeling. He should be proud of himself."

Chisenhall's early surge this season has impressed his teammates.

"We're pleasantly surprised, but I wouldn't say that it's uncharacteristic," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "Everyone's always thought he had the potential to do this. You can ask around. It's just the maturity he's had on and off the field, as a teammate and as a person, I think that plays right into the success that he's having this year."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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