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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | September 18, 2021

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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 8

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 8

| On 20, Mar 2019

Baseball fans are now just single digits away from the start of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season. Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we continue our long countdown to Opening Day – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 8 days

Life after Lonnie began for the Cleveland Indians this offseason as Lonnie Chisenhall signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $2.75 million early in the free agency period.

Chisenhall’s deal finally made him a member of the Pirates, the club that selected him in the eleventh round of the 2006 draft out of high school. Chisenhall instead took the college path to the pro game two years later.

The 30-year-old spent eight seasons in an Indians uniform, with his first season in 2011 in the number 27 before spending the next seven in his much more familiar number eight. The expectations on the former first round pick of the 2008 draft (29th overall) were high, but Chisenhall was unable to live up to those expectations as difficulties in the field and at the plate, a position change, and frequent bouts with injuries tapped into his playing time.

Never was that more apparent than last season, when Chisenhall was limited to just 29 games at the Major League level, the fewest of his big league career. When healthy a year ago, Chisenhall showed his usual promise, but he was unable to make his way into the lineup often enough to make a real impact. He had just 95 plate appearances, putting together a .321/.394/.452 slash with six doubles, one triple, one homer, and nine RBI. Just over a week into the season, he was on the disabled list with a right calf strain and did not return for nearly two months. Two days short of a month after being activated, he was back on the shelf at the start of July with a left calf strain (one that turned into a 60-day DL stint and ended his season).

Chisenhall – Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chisenhall suffered a similar plight in 2017, when he worked in 82 games while missing time with a right shoulder sprain, a concussion, and a calf issue. He hit .288 with a .360 on-base percentage and a .521 slugging mark (the latter two being the best of his career) and he fell just one homer short of his career high set in 2014, when he played in a career-high 142 games and had 263 more trips to the plate.

The long ball was rarely a part of Chisenhall’s game, so its inconsistent appearances were not as big of a deal as long as he was still hitting. In his second season in the Indians organization in 2009, he hit a combined 31 doubles and 22 homers while driving in 92 runs at High-A Kinston and Double-A Akron, but he rarely came close to those numbers again in a whole season. He struggled at times early in his career to adapt to big league pitching and spent time bouncing back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A from 2011 to 2015, when he moved to the outfield before coming back in the second half of the season.

Chisenhall’s big league career began at the hot corner after a fairly quick ascent through the club’s farm system, but after five seasons of work at third base, the club looked to move a different direction. His best individual fielding percentage at the position in that span was .963 in 2015, when the team formally moved on from the experiment and threw him into right field. He became a serviceable defender in the grass, making just one error that season and a total of just five over three and a half seasons of work in the outfield. He also played in a couple of handfuls of games at first base when manager Terry Francona needed some roster flexibility.

The inability of “Lonnie Baseball” to stay in the lineup as both a healthy and productive member of the squad made him a tough player to count on and led to a mixed return overall from the investment made in his first round selection. A hard-nosed player who looked to give his all, he left his efforts on the field, but often suffered the consequences rendered by his body. Despite overcoming a slow adaptation to the Bigs and always remaining humble [and one of the nicer men to interview in a minor league clubhouse – BT], the mounting injuries often left the Indians hamstrung at positions of organizational weakness frequently over the years.

Now, he will hope to stay healthy, but his first spring training outside of the Indians organization has not gone well as he has hit just .200 in eleven Grapefruit League games and 30 plate appearances with three singles, two doubles, four walks, and eight strikeouts. Arguably the Pirates’ biggest offseason free agent add, he will work in right field, alongside left fielder Corey Dickerson and center fielder Starling Marte, until regular Gregory Polanco is fully recovered from shoulder surgery.

Jordan Luplow, a right-handed hitting 25-year-old outfielder acquired by the Indians in the offseason from the logjam in the Pirates outfield as part of the Erik Gonzalez trade, is in Goodyear with the Tribe in the number eight now, hoping to break camp with a share of Chisenhall’s old right field position (likely in a platoon with Tyler Naquin). Despite two years and 64 games of MLB experience under his belt in Pittsburgh, it has been a tough spring for Luplow as well, as he has hit .125 (4-for-32) with three doubles, one triple, and eight RBI while striking out 12 times and walking six in 39 plate appearances. The struggles of several camp candidates, looking to fill the voids left by the free agent departures of Chisenhall, Michael Brantley, Melky Cabrera, and Rajai Davis, may have been driving factors in the Indians’ formal addition of veteran free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez this week.

Other notable 8s in Tribe history (35 in total): Luke Sewell (the first from 1929-32), Ken Keltner (1941-44), Ray Boone (1949-53), Willie Kirkland (1961-62), Ray Fosse (1967-72), Albert Belle (1990-96), John McDonald (1999-2004).

Photo: Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below.

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 99
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 90 – Adam Cimber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 88
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 77
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 76
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 75
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 64
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 63
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 62
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 61 – Dan Otero
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 60
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 59 – Carlos Carrasco
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 58 – Neil Ramirez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 57 – Shane Bieber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 56 – Cody Anderson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 55 – Roberto Perez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 54
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 53
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 52 – Mike Clevinger
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 51
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 50
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 49 – Tyler Olson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 48
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 47 – Trevor Bauer
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 46 – Jon Edwards
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 45 – Adam Plutko
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 44 – Nick Goody
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 43
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 42
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 41 – Carlos Santana
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 40
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 39 – Oliver Perez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 38 – Eric Haase
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 37
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 36
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 35 – Ben Taylor
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 34
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 33 – Brad Hand
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 32
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 31 – Danny Salazar
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 30 – Tyler Naquin
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 29
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 28 – Corey Kluber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 27
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 26
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 25
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 24
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 23
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 22 – Jason Kipnis
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 15
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 14
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 13 – Leonys Martin
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 12 – Francisco Lindor
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 11 – Jose Ramirez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 10
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 9

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