By: T.J. Zuppe
Before the game, the Indians promoted third-base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall from Class-AAA Columbus. They were hoping his presence could give them a necessary boost offensively with third-baseman Jack Hannahan and catcher Carlos Santana on the disabled list and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and DH Travis Hafner out of the lineup.
They did not know how quickly that boost would come.
In just his first at-bat back with the big league club this season, Chisenhall sent a Nathan Adcock pitch deep into the right field bullpen for his first home run of 2012.
That bomb started a five-run third-inning rally that culminated in an 8-5 Indians win over the Kansas City Royals, Monday afternoon.
“It’s nice to get a home run on the board and get rid of a few zeros,” Chisenhall said. “I feel good in the box now and being able to relax up there… I was comfortable with their pitching staff. I felt good.”
It certainly had to feel good for Chisenhall, who did not make the club out of spring training. Admittedly, he did occasionally think about when he would get his chance again.
“You’re always wondering but (I was) not really worried about it,” Chisenhall said. Just down there and enjoying those nice long road trips. Just waiting and playing good baseball.”
Chisenhall finished the day with two hits in three at bats. It extends a theme that dates back to September of 2011. Over his last 20 games with the Indians, he is hitting .325 with 15 runs batted in.
Manager Manny Acta was very impressed with Chisenhall.
“What a beautiful swing,” Acta said. “This kid has got a beautiful swing. It was nice to get us on the board right away.”
Acta admitted he was more excited about seeing Chisenhall this season because of the production he was finally putting together consistently with the Clippers.
“Lonnie has gone down there and done what we asked him to do and what we want to see,” Acta said. “In the past we have always talked about Lonnie being the future here but he hasn’t over the last couple of years gone down and dominated any league.
“This year he’s hitting over .320. He’s got a bunch of extra base (hits). His on base percentage is up. That’s a good sign. That’s what we wanted to see. It’s not just about potential but also seeing and doing some damage.”
One player that knows Chisenhall as well as anyone is second-baseman Jason Kipnis. Both spent plenty of time together in the minor leagues.
“He’s a good player and I can tell you first hand he’s been wanting to be up here the whole time,” Kipnis said. “He misses up here. He wants to hit up here. He’s still young and I think he’s still working some stuff out down there but this guy is going to be a good player for a long time.”
Even Kipnis could not hide his excitement when asked about Chisenhall’s homer in his first at bat.
“He crushed that ball,” Kipnis said. “I was happy for him. I was happy when I saw his locker here this morning.
“To have an at bat like that and a good solid contact swing, that was good.”
Photo courtesy of the AP and ESPN.com
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