ARLINGTON -- Lonnie Chisenhall will be the first to welcome back Jack Hannahan when he returns to the club for the Indians' weekend series in Minnesota.

Hannahan, out the last 10 days with a left calf muscle strain, has guided Chisenhall, his rookie understudy, during their season together, teaching the Indians' top prospect the tricks of the trade of playing third base at the Major League level.

"He's helped me a lot," Chisenhall said. "He's helped me be under control and relax more out there."

Indians manager Manny Acta said Hannahan, known for his outstanding glove during his time with Detroit, Oakland and Seattle, has been unselfish in his approach to helping out the 22-year-old third baseman.

"Having Jack with him for a few months has had a big impact on him," Acta said. "He's been unselfish in being willing to pass on whatever knowledge he has to share with him."

Acta expects to pencil in Choo on Thursday

ARLINGTON -- Shin-Soo Choo, who has suffered through an injury-riddled season, is expected to be back in the Indians' lineup on Thursday.

Choo, out since Aug. 28 with a left oblique strain, did normal baseball activities on Wednesday, including taking full batting practice.

"He should be able to play tomorrow," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's been a challenge without him, [Michael] Brantley and [Travis] Hafner not out there."

Choo has only played in 84 games after averaging 150 games played the previous two seasons. He has had two disabled list stints in the last three months, the other for a thumb injury that required surgery.

Choo is batting .260 with eight home runs on the season. Three of those long balls came in the week prior to his oblique injury.

Gomez has a shot at Indians' 2012 rotation

ARLINGTON -- Indians manager Manny Acta said Wednesday that Jeanmar Gomez's name can be added to the list of potential starting rotation candidates when the club heads for Spring Training next year.

Gomez will start Saturday's game in Minnesota, his fourth start in the Indians' current rotation that is without Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery) and Josh Tomlin (right elbow soreness).

The 23-year-old Venezuelan has been brilliant in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30, allowing three earned runs in 17 1/3 innings while winning all three starts.

"He's established his fastball and kept up his velocity," Acta said. "His secondary pitches are a work in progress."

Acta said not having Carrasco next season could help a guy like Gomez.

"He's one of those guys that's done well in Triple-A," Acta said. "You never know what we'll do in the offseason. But he should have a chance."

Santana could catch, or play first, in 2012

ARLINGTON -- Carlos Santana at catcher. Carlos Santana at first base. Either is a long-term possibility, manager Manny Acta said Wednesday.

Santana has started 83 games at catcher and 53 at first base. His power numbers have been about the same at each position, with 16 of his 23 home runs coming when he's been behind the plate. He's batting .243 at catcher and .232 at first base.

"He can do both," Acta said. "It all depends on what we do with our first-base situation."

The Indians have waited on Matt LaPorta to blossom -- he has started 82 games at first base this season. Shelley Duncan has started seven. LaPorta is hitting .239 with 11 home runs while continuing to bounce between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus.

For his part, Santana just wants to play.

"I like to hit in any ballpark," Santana said. "I just love the game."

Worth noting

• The Indians released their 2012 schedule Wednesday and will open at home against Toronto on April 5. It's the second straight year Cleveland will open the season at Progressive Field.

• Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera continue to close in on Victor Martinez's club record for home runs in a season by a switch-hitter. Santana's two-homer game Tuesday put him within two of Martinez's record of 25 in 2007. Cabrera has 22 home runs.