5/21/2014 1:20 P.M. ET
Indians rely on Chisenhall in supporting role
By Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- Lonnie Chisenhall might just have one home run in 2014, but not many people will notice with him batting .366 through 33 games entering Wednesday.
After enduring a frustrating 2013 season that saw him post a .225 / .270 / .398 slash line and a .668 OPS, the infielder has seen renewed success at the plate while embracing his new everyman role with the Tribe. The biggest difference, Chisenhall said, has been his calmer mental approach and an increased willingness to settle for contact.
"I feel like last year, every time I went up there, I was trying to hit a homer or do a lot of damage, too much, to where it wasn't to my benefit," Chisenhall said. "This year, if I get a good pitch, take a single the other way or up the middle or something like that. Move it to the next guy."
Instead of winning an everyday starting spot right out of the gate, as was the case in 2013, the team has only worked him into the lineup whenever possible. Even so, Chisenhall is on pace to finish the first half of the season with more hits, doubles and walks than he had through the All-Star break last year.
"We pretty much gave him the [third-base] job and he kind of felt like he hadn't gotten the job," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "This year, he doesn't get the job, and instead he's like, 'Hey, I'll do whatever you ask me to do.'"
Chisenhall's versatility in the field has raised his value in Cleveland as well. With regular third baseman Carlos Santana slumping -- he has hit a paltry .148 with just eight extra-base hits since April 18 entering Wednesday -- Chisenhall has been able to make 12 starts at the hot corner, along with 14 starts as the designated hitter and two appearances at first base.
"And think about that in the ninth or the 10th inning of a game to know that he can [play at first base]," Francona said. "I would not be shocked at some point if he works his way into a game in the outfield. It'll probably happen on a day where something goes wrong, and it'll probably be a good thing for us, because we'll put him out there and he'll do fine."
Brantley trusts swing to be 'same hitter' with power
CLEVELAND -- Michael Brantley has learned that a swing is not always in need of fixing when a hitter encounters an offensive slump. That realization has helped the Indians left fielder focus on maintaining consistent mechanics and has led to steady results.
Through the first two months of this season, Brantley has emerged as Cleveland's top batter and a candidate to represent the club at this summer's All-Star Game. The outfielder said recently that one key for him was working this offseason to have more of a "mature" swing this year.
"That means just trusting my swing," Brantley said. "It's trusting that every time it's going to be all right and not trying to tinker or make adjustments when there's no need to."
Brantley, who has filled in as the Tribe's No. 3 hitter while second baseman Jason Kipnis has been on the disabled list with a right oblique injury, headed into Wednesday's action batting .291 with nine home runs, 10 doubles, 33 RBIs, 24 runs, more walks (17) than strikeouts (16) and an .877 OPS through 44 games.
Through 165 at-bats, Brantley is only one home run shy of the career-best 10 long balls he launched in 556 at-bats across all of last season. Beyond the home runs, the outfielder hit .284 with 26 doubles and 73 RBIs in 151 games in 2013.
"It's fun to watch," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Brantley's increased power. "I think his base is stronger -- his legs. As good hitters get to know themselves throughout the league, sometimes that evolves into more production. I think that's what you're seeing.
"I don't think you see him selling out to hit home runs. [It's] just balls that maybe used to be doubles, he's starting to drive over the fence, which is great to see. What I really like is the fact that he's the same hitter, he's just generating a few more home runs."
Brantley said attempting to be the same hitter with the same swing has been an important element to his game this season. In the past, the left fielder was tempted to toy with his mechanics when the inevitable in-season slump would surface.
"Absolutely. I was young," Brantley said. "I was trying to do whatever worked that felt good at the time, instead of going back to the basics and doing exactly what I was doing before. That's just not trying to do too much and putting good swings on good pitches."
Nagy named Indians' Draft representative
CLEVELAND -- Three-time American League All-Star selection Charles Nagy, who spent 13 of his 14 Major-League seasons as a starting pitcher for the Tribe, has been announced as the club's representative for the 2014 First-Year Player Draft next month.
After spending three seasons as the pitching coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he worked closely with current Tribe pitcher Trevor Bauer, Nagy returned to Cleveland in January when he was hired as a special assistant to baseball operations.
The right-handed Nagy is a former first-round pick of the Indians. Taken with the 17th overall selection in the 1988 Draft, he went on to win 129 games in Cleveland while owning a 4.51 ERA and throwing 1,235 strikeouts. He started Game 3 of both the '95 and '97 World Series for the Indians and finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award in '96 after posting a 17-5 record and a 3.41 ERA. He retired following the 2003 season.
The Indians have four selections inside the first 68 picks of this year's Draft, which ties for the League-high mark and includes two first-round picks at 21st and 31st overall. Cleveland took high-school outfielder Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Quote to note
"A team like that who's going to be atop the division race all year, to have good games against them is very, very important when September rolls around and you're fighting for every game. To play well against them is always big, so hopefully this can catapult us going forward."
--Indians setup man Cody Allen, on winning the series against Detroit
• In the fifth inning of Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Tigers, Detroit's Ian Kinsler tried to stretch a single into the left-field corner into a double. Left fielder Brantley collected the ball after it caromed off the wall and threw Kinsler out at second for his Major League-leading fifth outfield assist. Over the past two seasons, Brantley (15) ranks second to only Kansas City's Alex Gordon (21) in assists from left field.
"He's so good at that and he practices it," Francona said of Brantley's spin-and-fire move in the left-field corner. "He's done it time and time again. That, at that time in the game, was a huge play."
• With his two-run single in the second inning on Wednesday, Brantley extended his hitting streak at Progressive Field to 18 games. That puts Brantley in a tie with Roberto Alomar (2000) and Kenny Lofton (1996) for the longest hitting streak in stadium history for an Indians batter.
• Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera headed into Wednesday's game batting .426 (20-for-47) with two home runs, six doubles, seven walks, seven RBIs and 13 runs scored in his past 12 games, which have included seven multihit showings. Over that span, the switch-hitting shortstop raised his season average to .268 from .205 for the Tribe.
• In his first start since being optioned to Triple-A Columbus, right-hander Danny Salazar allowed five runs on six hits with one strikeout and three walks in 2 2/3 innings against Syracuse on Wednesday. Salazar threw 70 pitches (42 strikes) and allowed one home run.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.