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Chisenhall carving out spot as utility outfielder

Special to MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Indians manager Terry Francona filled out his lineup card before Tuesday's 11-4 win over the Twins, he had no problem penciling Lonnie Chisenhall in at center field.

Francona could be forgiven if he did have some reservations about playing Chisenhall in center. After all, the 28-year-old outfielder had spent just five games there before Tuesday's game against the Twins.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- When Indians manager Terry Francona filled out his lineup card before Tuesday's 11-4 win over the Twins, he had no problem penciling Lonnie Chisenhall in at center field.

Francona could be forgiven if he did have some reservations about playing Chisenhall in center. After all, the 28-year-old outfielder had spent just five games there before Tuesday's game against the Twins.

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Once again slotted to play center field for the second game in a row, Chisenhall is showing his manager he can handle his new position.

"We wouldn't have put him out there if we didn't think he was going to be fine," Francona said. "At right field, he was pretty comfortable. This is a new challenge, and he understands that. But I think he's a good outfielder."

Chisenhall played primarily third base to start his career with Cleveland before eventually transitioning to the outfield. The 2015 season marked his first as an outfielder, and he played 51 games that year in right field.

It's not as if Chisenhall spent much time in center field during his time in the Minors, either. Of his 482 career Minor League games, just four of them were as a center fielder.

Last season, Chisenhall played the majority of his games (118) in right field. He also made his first career start in center, and he's getting more opportunities in 2017 to show he can hold his ground in the middle of the Cleveland outfield.

"I think you can put him anywhere out there, and he's going to be a good outfielder," Francona said.

Worth noting

• Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is off to a hot start in his third season in the Majors. The 23-year-old Gold Glove winner hit a single in the first inning Tuesday to extend his career-high hitting streak to 12 games. He added a two-run triple in the sixth inning. 

Video: CLE@MIN: Lindor extends hit streak to 12 games

But despite some impressive stats from Lindor in the first few weeks of the season, Francona says his shortstop is doing more than just filling the box score to elevate his game.

"He's a very intelligent player, and I think he understands that," Francona said. "Because some guys are as good as their numbers, and you'll take them. And then some guys are probably better. I think that's what we think Frankie can be. He's a smart kid and he pays attention, so I think that bodes well for us."

Tyler Mason is a contributor to MLB.com based in Minnesota and covered the Indians on Tuesday.

Cleveland Indians, Lonnie Chisenhall