Indians weighing options at third

The Cleveland Indians don't have many position battles in camp, but one of them is the third base job––between the slick-fielding Jack Hannahan and the young prospect Lonnie Chisenhall.

For a team coming off a season in which it had a losing record, the Indians have remarkably few position battles in spring training. The only starting jobs up for grab are left field and third base.

The third base competition is particularly interesting because it involves a veteran and a player who has yet to spend a full season at the major league level. The veteran is 32-year-old Jack Hannahan. The young player is Lonnie Chisenhall, 23.

The two players are separated by more than only the nine-year gap in their ages. Hannahan is a defensive specialist, while Chisenhall will attempt to win the third base job in spring training with his bat.

Manager Manny Acta said it will be an honest competition. According to Acta, neither Hannahan nor Chisenhall began spring training with a definite advantage.

Both players, at their best, offer intriguing potential to the starting lineup. For Hannahan, it's his defense, which was Gold Glove caliber last year. The importance of Hannahan's defense cannot be underestimated, given the makeup of the Indians' projected pitching staff.

That staff is heavy with sinkerball pitchers. Those pitchers figure to produce a lot of groundballs, which the Indians' infielders need to turn into outs in order for the pitchers, and the team, to be successful.

In his half-season trial at third base last year as a rookie, Chisenhall was very shaky defensively. However, Chisenhall's bat is projected to be much stronger than Hannahan's, and the potential boost to the lineup that Chisenhall's bat could bring likewise cannot be underestimated.

The Indians last year were one of the weakest teams in the American League offensively. They were also unable to add the impact bat to the lineup that they had hoped to add during the off-season.

Chisenhall figures to bring more offensive production to the lineup than Hannahan, but whether Chisenhall's superior bat will be enough to trump his inferior glove remains to be seen.

Acta said the decision at third base probably will go down to the final days of spring training.

Indians Notes & Quotes

  • RHP Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has agreed to complete a work program, in exchange for having false identity charges against him dropped, according to prosecutors in the Dominican Republic.

    Hernandez was arrested in the Dominican Republic last month, and placed on baseball's restricted list. Police also say he is 31, three years older than he said.

    Indians general manager Chris Antonetti told that the team is monitoring any developments and remains "in touch with his representatives."

    Carmona will earn $7 million this year, and the Indians hold options for 2013 at $9 million and 2014 at $12 million. The right-hander won 13 games in 2010, and was expected to be part of the starting rotation this season.

  • RHP Ubaldo Jimenez was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his first two spring training starts. In those two starts Jimenez gave up three earned runs on seven hits, with three walks and one strikeout. Jimenez says he's not worried about those numbers.

    "I feel way better than I did early last year (in spring training)," said Jimenez, who sustained an injury to his pitching thumb in his second spring start last year. "Getting through the second game healthy this year is a good sign."

  • 3B Lonnie Chisenhall will have to show improved defense to win the third base job in spring training. Chisenhall struggled defensively at third base in the second half of last year, after being recalled from Class AAA Columbus. He is competing with defensive specialist Jack Hannahan for the job in training camp. Manager Manny Acta said the competition at third base could go down to the last few days of spring training.

  • 2B Jason Kipnis drew considerable attention during a game vs. Arizona which was televised by the MLB Network on March 7. Several members of the Indians wore microphones during the game, and Kipnis at one point was heard singing Adele's hit "Someone Like You."

  • OF Shelley Duncan, who is competing with several others for the left field job, got off to a good start. In his first four spring training games Duncan was 3-for-10, with two home runs and six RBI. That's a continuation of Duncan's hot September of last year, during which he hit seven home runs and ahd 21 RBI.

  • LHP Rafael Perez, expected to again be one of the mainstays of the Indians' bullpen, did not appear in any of the early spring training games because of a sore left shoulder.

  • By the Numbers: 62 – Number of players in the Indians' major league training camp. That number includes 28 pitchers.

  • Quote to Note: "We're happy that we actually had choices and had to think about it." -- Manager Manny Acta, on his selecting RHP Justin Masterson from a group of two or three candidates to be the Indians' opening day starter.

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