Urshela makes Major League debut
Infielder Walters also called up as Chisenhall, Ramirez sent to Triple-A
CLEVELAND -- Giovanny Urshela made his MLB debut on Tuesday, batting eighth and playing third base after being called up from Triple-A Columbus.
Urshela replaces the struggling Lonnie Chisenhall, who was optioned to Columbus along with shortstop Jose Ramirez, and figures to take over as the everyday third baseman moving forward.
Urshela, the Indians No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com, figures to help out the Indians on defense, as scouts have always raved about his ability at the hot corner. But what's most impressed the club over the last year is Urshela's newfound ability to drive the ball, thanks in part to a new strength and conditioning program adopted in Arizona during Spring Training before the start of last season.
"He's always been a very good defender," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But it seemed like he started to figure some things out, make himself stronger, and he really put himself back on the map last year."
Urshela, who dealt with a swollen disk in his back and a knee injury earlier in the year, is back to 100 percent health now, agrees with the assessment.
"It is very important that I did that last year," Urshela said. "It helped a lot last season, working on strength to develop my body."
With Chisenhall, the club hopes the move back to Triple-A can clear his mind and help him start with a fresh slate and turn things around, not dissimilar to what happened with Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas between last year and now.
"It seemed like it was a struggle from Opening Day," Francona said. "You could start to see that it was wearing on him at third base. He even admitted it. He said, 'I was kind of hanging my hat on the fact that I was playing a good third.' And then the other day [he made two errors]. Unfortunately, sometimes they're better off going back to Triple-A and kind of wiping the slate clean."
Zach Walters has bounced around the field in the past, playing second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field in his brief stints with Cleveland. This time around, he figures to do more of the same, though the club has placed a focus on getting Walters some time at shortstop, as he was only able to play three games at the position in Triple-A, due to top prospect Francisco Lindor.
Francona mentioned two reasons for that desire. One, they want to see what Walters can offer at the position in-game at the Major League level. Two, they are intrigued by Walters' offense upside at a position that doesn't typically provide much offense.
"If he's able to handle it, he has that power in the bat," Francona said. "It's a little bit of a unique skill set, but it's one that's pretty interesting."