Looking at the early lineups signals that Lonnie Chisenhall is the 25th man

John Gress

We've learned some interesting things in the early going in terms of how the lineup is being constructed, and one thing stands out.


Let me start off by saying I don't want to overstate the importance of three games. A lot can change over the course of the season and some things already have - the signing of George Kottaras, for example, will likely influence decisions at some point this year. But Terry Francona and his staff have made a couple interesting statements with their lineup cards already, and they are worth exploring.

Here are the lineups through three games:

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Nyjer Morgan (CF) Asdrubal Cabrera (DH) Nyjer Morgan (CF)
Nick Swisher (1B) Nick Swisher (1B) Nick Swisher (1B)
Jason Kipnis (2B) Jason Kipnis (2B) Jason Kipnis (DH)
Carlos Santana (3B) Carlos Santana (3B) Carlos Santana (C)
Michael Brantley (LF) Ryan Raburn (LF) Michael Brantley (LF)
Ryan Raburn (DH) Michael Brantley (CF) Asdrubal Cabrera (SS)
Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) Mike Aviles (SS) David Murphy (RF)
David Murphy (RF) Yan Gomes (C) Mike Aviles (2B)
Yan Gomes (C) Elliot Johnson (RF) Lonnie Chisenhall (3B)

The first and third games were started by right-handed pitcher, the second by a lefty. What jumps out?

The first is the 2-3-4 hitters seem to be basically set. That's no surprise. Tito also seems to be planning on using a rotating DH, rather than anything set. Three games, three DHs, and two of them are our starting middle infield - not the guys you would usually expect to see holding down the DH spot. In general, I like this. Some players don't like being a regular DH, and this way you avoid forcing anyone into that position while giving everyone an additional "day off" to keep the whole roster fresh. With such a varied bench, you could see an 8-man DH rotation such that every "regular" gets a day at DH every week or two.

The next thing I notice is that Ryan Raburn has started twice, including once against a righty. When David Murphy was signed this off-season, the assumption was he'd platoon with Raburn in right field, getting Raburn off the field against righties (who he has traditionally not hit well against). If Raburn is going to get playing time against righties - at DH no less - you have to wonder if Murphy was brought in to take at bats away from someone else. And if you're looking for a candidate...

Lonnie Chisenhall was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 6th inning Wednesday night, so three games in he's 1-2 with a line-drive single, and little opportunity to show what he can do. If Francona wanted to give him a shot, he could have easily started him over Raburn against the righty on opening night. He also could have used the doubleheader as an excuse to DH Santana in one game (since he had to catch the other) giving Chiz a chance to play twice. Instead, Chisenhall has fewer starts than Raburn (who is theoretically the short-side of a platoon) and Aviles (who is supposedly a reserve). Even Elliot Johnson, who is more of a defense and speed guy than a regular, has appeared in two games, compared to just the one for Chisenhall.

All in all, you are left with this: after being so unsure of Chisenhall that they asked their DH to learn a position he hadn't played in years, and despite a very solid spring from the still-young-3B, three games into the year, the Indianshave made it clear that Chisenhall is the very last player on their bench. His trade value seems low and Francona apparently has little interest in letting him play. I have to imagine he is about to be sent down, either to make room for a backup catcher or for the return of Jason Giambi.

They ought to let the kid play and see if he can make something happen, but it doesn't seem like he's going to get much of a chance.

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