Lonnie Chisenhall Announces Retirement
Vince Guerrieri | On 26, Feb 2020
At one point, Lonnie Chisenhall was rated the top prospect in the Indians’ organization.
He never quite lived up to his potential as a first-round draft pick, but he remained a fan favorite during his eight-year career. Chisenhall played 688 games – all in a Cleveland uniform – in his major league career but he announced his retirement in his hometown of Newport, N.C., while his jersey was being raised to the rafters at his former middle school.
“I’ve only played 29 games in the past two years,” Chisenhall said during a Q&A session with the students, according to the Carteret County News-Times. “So between that, and I have three kids at home, they are all in school, traveling around the country wasn’t practical anymore. It was a pretty easy decision.”
Chisenhall was drafted out of West Carteret High School by the Pirates, but opted to attend Pitt Community College, where he became the Indians’ first-round draft pick in 2008. That year, the Indians also drafted future major leaguers Cord Phelps (in the third round) and T.J. House (in the 16th), but their best pick might have come in the 33rd round, when they selected Roberto Perez, who has blossomed into the Tribe’s everyday catcher.
Chisenhall made his major league debut three years later, a lean time for the Indians. They went 80-82 in Chisenhall’s rookie year of 2011 – the best year they had under manager Manny Acta. He was supposed to plug a hole in the Tribe defense at third base, but a stint in the minors in 2015 allowed him to transition to the outfield – particularly since Jose Ramirez could fill in quite capably at third base (a role he’s projected to play for the Indians again this year, even after the departure of Jason Kipnis).
In 2013, the Indians advanced to the wild card game, their first postseason play since winning the division in 2007. The game was a disappointment for Tribe fans, with a 4-0 loss to the Rays, but Chisenhall was a bright spot, going 3-for-4. His peak years were in 2014-2016 – the only three years in his major league career where he played more than 100 games.
Nagging injuries, particularly to his calf, kept him off the field for extended periods of time, particularly after hot streaks in 2017 and 2018, and the Indians let him leave as a free agent after the 2018 season where he only played 29 games. He signed a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the team that originally drafted him, but never saw the field in Pittsburgh, playing just nine games with Pirates’ Triple-A team in Indianapolis.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images