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Wiser Chisenhall will do anything for a ring

MLB.com @MLBastian

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Lonnie Chisenhall strolls through the Indians' clubhouse in the morning, he often is carrying a bat in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. There are pictures his young sons have drawn for him taped above his locker. It is no wonder Chisenhall's teammates jokingly call him an old man.

"I call it maturity," Chisenhall quipped.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Lonnie Chisenhall strolls through the Indians' clubhouse in the morning, he often is carrying a bat in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. There are pictures his young sons have drawn for him taped above his locker. It is no wonder Chisenhall's teammates jokingly call him an old man.

"I call it maturity," Chisenhall quipped.

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As far as the Indians are concerned, it has been Chisenhall's maturation on the baseball field that is most important. Gone are the inclinations of a first-round Draft pick. The game humbled Chisenhall years ago. The big leagues have a way of doing that to players who climb quickly via raw talent. He is smarter now about hitting, willing to run out to any position and focused on winning a ring with the only organization he has known.

At the outset of Spring Training, that was Chisenhall's message in his one-on-one meeting with manager Terry Francona. This might very well be the outfielder's final season in an Indians uniform, and winning the World Series is the only goal. So whatever Francona asks of Chisenhall, he will oblige.

Would Chisenhall have had that same attitude when he was a rookie?

"He was a stubborn guy," Chisenhall said of his younger self with a smile. "I'm still stubborn now. But you come up in two and a half years in the Minors, and you're 22 years old, you can't tell many 22-year-olds anything. That was seven years ago. I'm excited about how I've grown and what it's evolved into, and to see the organization grow as a whole."

Chisenhall will turn 30 in October, when he hopes to be embarking on another postseason run with the Indians. He was quick to note that Cleveland nearly reached the World Series in 2007, leading to him being selected with the 29th pick in the MLB Draft in the following summer. Chisenhall was in the Majors by 2011 and was a part of the '12 team that lost 94 games.

Video: DET@CLE: Chisenhall clubs a two-run homer to right

Over the past five years, Chisenhall has endured career ups and downs, while Cleveland has developed into an annual contender. He came up as a third baseman, dealt with multiple trips back to the Minor Leagues, converted to the outfield in '15 and embraced a platoon-type role under Francona. At every turn, Chisenhall learned to accept his place as a piece of the larger puzzle.

"The things that happened throughout my career were probably the best things that could've happened," Chisenhall said. "Getting sent down in '13. Not making the team in '12. Getting sent down in '15. Struggling at times, where I didn't make my adjustments fast enough. I wasn't mature enough to understand what I was actually doing. All that made me the player I am today."

Today, Chisenhall projects to be the main right fielder for the Indians, and it is possible that the platoon label might be peeled off a little more. Last season, Chisenhall performed well against both lefties (.967 OPS in 60 plate appearances) and righties (.857 OPS in 210 plate appearances) and was in the midst of a career year before injuries got in the way.

Overall, Chisenhall posted a .288/.360/.521 slash line in 82 games, in which he launched 12 home runs in 270 plate appearances. That fell one shy of his career mark for homers (13 in 533 PAs in '14). Chisenhall had a 129 Weighted Runs Created Plus, meaning he was 29 percent above average offensively. The only thing that held Chisenhall back was health.

"That was his best year by far," Francona said. "He was just on fire. When we lost him, it hurt us."

Chisenhall is healthy again, and the old man is motivated.

"It could be my last year here," Chisenhall said. "I'd hate to not end it on a good note. So, we're coming in focused on winning the final game of the season. That's going to be a big talk and it's going to be an outward focus as a team. If we do things right collectively, we'll be fine."

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 Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Lonnie Chisenhall