Chisenhall eyes return to Tribe this season
Third baseman continuing to recover from fractured right elbow
CLEVELAND -- Sitting at his locker on Sunday morning, a six-inch scar running up the side of his right forearm, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall looked relaxed and sounded optimistic about his chances of suiting up for the Indians again this season.
Chisenhall's recovery from surgery to repair a fractured right ulna -- the result of an errant fastball from Orioles pitcher Troy Patton on June 29 -- is going well. The clock is ticking on the regular season, but the third baseman sees plenty of time left on the calendar to complete a quick comeback.
"Absolutely," Chisenhall said. "They said everything is looking good right now. If I can get two weeks of serious Major League Baseball in, for me, that'd be awesome. Obviously, the sooner the better, but we're playing it by how I feel each day."
Right now, Chisenhall's days at Progressive Field are occupied by range-of-motion exercises. Within the past few days, he started adding strengthening workouts to his daily regimen. Once Chisenhall has regained a comfort level with his strength and flexibility, baseball drills will be mixed in as well.
It was a fluke injury that ended Chisenhall's month-long stay with the Tribe earlier this season, and the timing was especially frustrating for him. Chisenhall hit .278 with three homers and nine RBIs in his 24 games with Cleveland from May 28-June 29, but he had hit .342 (13-for-38) in the 13 games leading up to Patton's ill-fated pitch.
Chisenhall, 23, wants to make a return to the Tribe's lineup at some point in September, and the club has yet to rule out that possibility. Beyond potentially garnering some big league at-bats down the stretch, he is also contemplating playing winter ball over the offseason.
"It depends on the at-bats that I get up here," Chisenhall said. "I've been approached about winter ball. I know it's a good thing to go do if I'm missing a lot of at-bats, but I'd like it to be competitive. I'd like it to be where my family could go over there also. It also depends on how I feel.
"But I wouldn't mind going over there and getting a few at-bats and stuff like that against some quality pitchers."
Lillibridge auditioning for bench role next year
CLEVELAND -- Brent Lillibridge is viewing his situation with Cleveland as a kind of audition. Perform well as the team's super utility man, and maybe there will be a bench role waiting for him when next season arrives.
Since joining the Indians on July 24, Lillibridge has certainly opened a few eyes.
"I feel like in a way I'm in a tryout," Lillibridge said. "I was with the White Sox for a long time -- they knew what I could do. Here, I'm just trying to prove and show that I can play this game and play at this level.
"I'm going to play hard and work really hard on trying to stay focused on whatever position I'm playing.'
Cleveland acquired Lillibridge in a trade with the Red Sox, who landed him in the deal that sent Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox on June 24. The Tribe had indeed seen plenty of Lillibridge in his three-plus seasons in Chicago -- enough to feel he could fill multiple roles as a right-handed bench option.
Through his first 11 games with the Indians, Lillibridge has already spent time at second base, shortstop and third base, along with stops in left and center field. He has also hit .300 (9-for-30) with three extra-base hits and six runs scored. In 59 games between the White Sox and Red Sox earlier this year, he hit .165 (13-for-79) with one extra-base hit.
"He's very versatile," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's having a tough year overall, but he can play all over the place. He plays good defense and he can run, and he's swung the bat against left-handed pitching so far here. It helps. He has given us some more flexibility off the bench."
Acta again picks right time to use squeeze play
CLEVELAND -- The Indians set aside some time each spring to work on squeeze bunts. It is a play that manager Manny Acta keeps in his back pocket and only uses when a variety of factors align just so.
All the practice has made Acta nearly perfect when he opts to put the play on.
"We put the time in in Spring Training working on it," Indians catcher Lou Marson said on Sunday morning. "It's nice when it pays off."
It paid off in the seventh inning of Saturday's 5-2 victory over the Red Sox. Marson pulled off a successful squeeze bunt, scoring Brent Lillibridge from third base for a critical insurance run that helped Cleveland to its third win in four games.
Marson was the runner who scored on the Tribe's last squeeze on July 24. In that 3-2 win over Detroit, it was outfielder Aaron Cunningham who used a perfectly executed bunt to plate the catcher for the go-ahead run.
In his time as Cleveland's manager, Acta has successfully converted six of the seven squeeze plays he has put in action.
"I feel like he puts them on in the right times," Marson said. "He has confidence that we're going to get the sign and get the bunt down."
Quote to note
"It was a whirlwind. I never really felt like I got my feet settled. I wanted to help them the best I could and it didn't work out. But I got an opportunity here. The Indians wanted me and it was a good situation."
--Indians utility man Brent Lillibridge, on his short stint with the Red Sox
As expected, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was out of the starting lineup on Sunday, marking the fourth straight game he has missed with a stiff neck. Cleveland is hopeful that Kipnis will be able to rejoin the lineup for Monday's road game against the Angels.
Indians left-hander Rafael Perez resumed his Minor League rehab on Saturday, turning in one shutout inning for Triple-A Columbus. The reliever walked one with no hits allowed or strikeouts. There is no timetable for return for Perez, who has been shelved with a left lat strain since April 26.
The Indians expect to activate right-hander Roberto Hernandez before Wednesday's game against the Angels. Cleveland will need to remove a pitcher -- either a starter or reliever -- from its staff in order to add Hernandez to the rotation. The Tribe is carrying eight relief pitchers.
Infielder Jose Lopez, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, was released by the Indians on Sunday. Lopez hit .249 with four home runs and 28 RBIs in 66 games for Cleveland this season.