Chisenhall set for utility role in return to Indians

Chisenhall set for utility role in return to Indians

OAKLAND -- Given the emergence of rookie Giovanny Urshela, Lonnie Chisenhall's days as the Indians' starting third baseman appear to be behind him. Chisenhall has taken the developments of the past few months in stride, and is now trying to show Cleveland that he can be counted on as a versatile utility man.

"You want to make yourself an asset to a team," Chisenhall said.

In the wake of the trade that sent outfielder Brandon Moss to St. Louis on Thursday, Cleveland recalled Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus and plan on using him at a variety of positions. Chisenhall might still see some action at third base, but manager Terry Francona also plans on giving him a shot in right field and potentially at first base.

Francona appreciates Chisenhall's willingness to embrace such a role.

"I think he's understanding that you can make yourself valuable to a ballclub," Francona said. "That's a way to have a career, because that's really what it comes down to. He had a tough start to the year. He went back to Triple-A. He's not the only guy that's ever happened to, but that doesn't mean he can't be successful."

For his first game back with the Tribe, Chisenhall went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as the designated hitter in the 3-1 win over the A's on Thursday. Francona wanted to give him a chance to get his legs under him after a long day of travel.

The 26-year-old Chisenhall hit .280 with 13 homers, 59 RBIs and a .770 OPS in 142 games as Cleveland's starting third baseman last season, but he struggled to get going offensively in the first two months this year. After hitting .209 with a .585 OPS in his first 52 games, the Indians optioned Chisenhall back to Triple-A, where he hit .280 with a .750 OPS in 40 games, while trying a handful of positions.

Chisenhall said he asked Triple-A manager Chris Tremie if he could try his hand in the outfield and at first base, and the Indians approved the experiment.

"Learning a new position can be challenging," said Chisenhall, who was originally drafted by the Indians as a shortstop. "It gives you something to look forward to every day coming in and working. It's a little bit different mentality. Things like that, you try to do your best to run scenarios and ask other outfielders things. ... It's new to me, but it's fun."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.