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Chisenhall makes impact in debut for Indians

Chisenhall makes impact in debut for Indians

Chisenhall makes impact in debut for Indians
PHOENIX -- The Lonnie Chisenhall era for the Indians has officially arrived. And it was punctuated when the left-handed-hitting third baseman doubled for his first Major League hit against the D-backs at Chase Field in the fifth inning on Monday night.

An inning later, he added another single and his first run batted in. He was fresh-faced and very excited just to be here.

"It was all a blur," he said about his first game after going 2-for-4 as the Indians won, 5-4, to snap a three-game losing streak.

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And that first hit?

"It was a relief," said Chisenhall, who flied out to left on the first big league pitch he saw from D-backs starter Ian Kennedy to open the second inning. "When I was up there [the next time], I got a good pitch to hit and put a swing on it."

Earlier in the day, the Indians summoned Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus in hopes of breathing some life into the club's ailing offense. To clear room on the roster for the young third baseman, the Tribe designated veteran infielder Adam Everett for assignment. Chisenhall is considered Cleveland's top prospect and the 28th-best prospect in baseball entering 2011, according to MLB.com.

Manny Acta said that the 21-year-old Chisenhall, who was named the Indians' Minor League player of the week on Tuesday, will start most games at third base, although there might be a day or two he'll sit against tough left-handed pitchers.

"Otherwise he came up here to play," Acta said. "He's not a finished product by any means. He's still going to come up here and go through the learning process. But we thought it was the right time. He has the ability to be a good hitter and a good player up here overall. He's not here to be the messiah, the savior, to carry this ballclub on his shoulders. We just want him to be himself, play third base and have some fun."

The decision on Chisenhall came a day after Cleveland suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the reigning World Series champion Giants in San Francisco. Over the course of the series by the Bay, the Indians managed just four runs and finished a paltry 2-for-22 with runners in scoring position.

The Indians are hoping Chisenhall can help correct that type of showing and spirits were brightened greatly when they scored five times in one game against the D-backs on Monday night.

In 65 games for Columbus, Chisenhall hit .265 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs across 253 at-bats. He also posted a .352 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage.

On Monday, Chisenhall was named the International League's Player of the Week after hitting .429 (9-for-21) with two home runs, 14 RBIs and an .801 slugging percentage in five games for the Clippers. He put up those numbers after being activated from the disabled list following a concussion, which he suffered banging his head on the infield dirt sliding head-first into third base. But he said before the game on Monday that he was completely over the affects of the concussion, the first he's been diagnosed with.

"I'm strong, healthy and confident and that's the way it should be," Chisenhall said. "After it happened, I'd be up there [at the plate] and it'd feel like there were three or four balls coming at me."

Chisenhall enjoyed a torrid spring at the plate for the Indians but was never in serious consideration for a spot on the Opening Day roster. The regular third-base role went to Jack Hannahan, who has impressed with the glove but labored at the plate, hitting .214 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 64 games. Cleveland made it clear that Chisenhall still had defensive development to complete.

Cleveland has now summoned two of its top infield prospects in light of the Major League club's persistent offensive struggles. Earlier this month, the Tribe promoted Cord Phelps to assume Orlando Cabrera's role as the regular second baseman. Chisenhall, a first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, will undoubtedly be ensconced at least for awhile at third.

"I'm excited," he said. "Everything's happened so fast. I'm just trying to take it all in. So far it's been awesome and I know most of the guys. I'm feeling very comfortable."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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