DETROIT — Lonnie Chisenhall is making the most out of what could have been his final shot with the Indians.
Chisenhall, Cleveland’s first-round draft choice in 2008, was not expected to make the Opening Day roster after Carlos Santana moved to third base this spring. But thanks to injuries to Michael Bourn and Jason Giambi, Chisenhall opened the season in the big leagues, and he’s running with the opportunity.
Chisenhall has hits in all seven games he’s played, batting a robust .522 (12-for-23). His batting average is tops in the majors with a minimum of 10 at-bats.
“He’s done a really good job of staying ready,” manager Terry Francona said. “When he really figures it out, I think he can be dangerous for a long time. He’s got bat speed, he’s got the ability to adjust to off-speed pitches. I think there’s some thunder in that bat.”
Though it’s a small sample, Chisenhall looks like a different player after failing to produce consistently in the majors since his debut in 2011. Francona sees it as a natural progression.
“As long as they stay healthy, you’re going to see better players,” Francona said.
Tossed and turnin’
Second baseman Jason Kipnis was ejected for the first time in his career after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Lance Barrett in the third inning.
Kipnis swung and missed at a third strike to end the inning with the bases loaded, then barked at Barrett, who threw him out immediately.
“It was the first pitch of the at-bat that I thought was down a little bit, so it got to me,” Kipnis said. “To that point, we had one of the tougher pitchers on the mound (Justin Verlander), and with a chance to get him on the ropes there early on, emotions were running a little high. I didn’t think I showed him up. I was just walking away and I told him that the first pitch changed the entire at-bat and you don’t need to be helping a guy like that out. It was unfortunate how it turned out.”
Kipnis said he had never been ejected from a game on any level.
“It’s going to happen from time to time,” he said. “Sometimes some good can come from it. You learn from it. But at the same time, it’s not a good feeling being in the locker room watching the rest of the game and not being able to help the team out. I pushed the envelope a lot, so maybe this is just picking me up for one, because I’ve said a lot worse and not gotten tossed, so maybe they owed me one, the umpire crew.”
Cody Allen has come a long way in a short time. With just one full season on his big league resume, the right-hander has solidified himself as one of the Indians’ most reliable late-inning relievers.
“There’s a lot of trust,” Francona said of Allen, who went 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA in a team-high 77 games (second in the American League) last year. “His role is to not only get outs, but he makes everybody else better. For a younger kid, that’s an immense amount of confidence to have in him — and he’s earned it.
“When you have a guy that you don’t have to pay attention to the split, left and right, that’s a good feeling.”
Francona has already called on the 25-year-old Allen often this season. He has appeared in eight games and has yet to allow an earned run, striking out 12 over six innings.
The Indians open a homestand with a three-game series against Toronto that begins tonight at 7:05.
Justin Masterson (0-0, 5.87 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing RHP Drew Hutchison (1-1, 3.68), while Corey Kluber (1-1, 5.40) goes for the Indians on Saturday (1:05 p.m.) against LHP Mark Buehrle (3-0, 0.86).
Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 7.84) leaves the bullpen to start the series finale Sunday (1:05 p.m.), while the Blue Jays counter with RHP Brandon Morrow (1-1, 5.52).
- Veteran designated hitter Jason Giambi (fractured rib) could be activated from the disabled list to join the Indians today. The Indians will most likely demote a reliever to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.
- Michael Brantley is batting .390 (16-for-41) in his career off Verlander.