8/23/2014 12:48 A.M. ET
Slumping Chisenhall trying to find early magic
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- It was only two months ago when Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall looked like a contender for the American League's batting title. Chisenhall's fortunes in the batter's box have taken a decisively different turn.
During Friday's 5-1 loss to the Astros, Chisenhall went 0-for-2 at the plate before being pulled for a pinch-hitter when left-hander Tony Sipp took the mound for Houston in the eighth inning. The third baseman's showing was the latest in a growing string of rough nights.
"It's a tough league," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you're not feeling great at the plate, pitchers will make you wear it. That's what he's going through."
The 25-year-old Chisenhall was in the big league spotlight on June 9, when he turned in an all-time great offensive game by going 5-for-5 with three home runs and nine RBIs against Texas. Two days later, the third baseman's average peaked at .393, and he had seven home runs to go along with 32 RBIs in 168 at-bats.
In the 54 games that followed, Chisenhall earned the right to play on an everyday basis, but hit .193 (37-for-192) with four home runs and 14 RBIs. With his 0-for-2 performance against Houston, his season average dropped to .285, which is respectable overall, but a far cry from where it once stood.
Recently, Francona has cited fatigue as one possible explanation.
"He just isn't getting to some balls that he was earlier," Francona said. "Early in the season, he was hitting a lot of balls to left field. Some of them hard, some of them not hard, finding the outfield grass. Then, as the league started to make adjustments, you could see Lonnie making adjustments and starting to pull the ball.
"Lately, the same balls he was hitting before, he's fouling back or maybe getting jammed a little bit. Some of that could be some fatigue."
Early in the year, Francona used the lefty-swinging Chisenhall sparingly against left-handers and he hit .500 (14-for-28) off southpaws through June 11. Since then, he has hit just .225 (9-for-40) against left-handers and only .182 (28-for-154) off righties. The recent struggles have led Francona to begin picking and choosing the right situations to use the third baseman.
"We've got to pick our spots a little bit," Francona said.
Gomes day to day with mild concussion
CLEVELAND -- Indians catcher Yan Gomes was diagnosed with a mild concussion on Friday morning, but the injury is not currently considered serious enough to warrant a trip to Major League Baseball's seven-day disabled list.
That has Gomes trying to talk his way into the starting lineup.
"He actually wanted to play today," Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Friday's game against the Astros. "That's not happening. But, that's good news. He's really feeling better."
Francona noted that, following a visit with doctors on Friday morning, Gomes is considered day to day with the issue. The catcher was scheduled to do some light activity on Friday to see if there were any lingering effects. While Gomes is temporarily sidelined, rookie catcher Roberto Perez will serve as the starter, and first baseman Carlos Santana will be the emergency backup.
The hope is that Gomes will be cleared to return to the lineup soon.
"[The doctors] are not ready to say that he needs to have a full seven days," Francona said. "So, we're going to probably go day to day."
In the fifth inning of Cleveland's 4-1 loss to the Twins on Thursday, the 27-year-old Gomes was struck on the left side of his catcher's mask by a pitch that glanced off the left arm of Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki. Gomes remained behind the plate for the rest of the fifth, but was replaced in the sixth by Perez.
Gomes said he began to feel ill a few minutes after the deflected pitch.
"I'm feeling better -- definitely better than yesterday," Gomes said. "I was spinning a little bit and I kind of started dry heaving, so that didn't feel very good. I felt like that was a good reason to take me out. Immediately, it didn't really hit me. It was more after I gathered my thoughts a little bit. That's when it started really kicking in."
Through 109 games this season, Gomes has hit .284 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Indians. The catcher has been one of Cleveland's hottest hitters in the second half, posting a .351 average to go along with five home runs, nine doubles, 17 RBIs and a .974 OPS through 29 games.
"We'll check Gomer each day," Francona said. "If he's getting better as fast as it looks like he's going to, we'll try to not have him go all seven [days]. And, if it looks like he needs to [go on the DL] at any point, then we would certainly do it."
Quote to note
"That's the big thing, is having an opportunity. The Nationals, they had a good team full of talent and veterans. There was nowhere for me to really go. I'm just thankful the Indians are giving me that chance. I feel alright. I don't feel good, but hopefully I can show them something while I'm figuring out that learning curve."
-- Indians outfielder Zach Walters
• Corey Kluber allowed three runs and walked four over seven innings in a loss against the Twins on Wednesday. It marked only the second time in 13 outings that the right-hander allowed at least three runs. Prior to Wednesday, Kluber had gone 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his previous eight starts and 7-1 with a 1.19 ERA in his previous 10 turns.
"He was fighting his mechanics a little bit," Francona said. "He was throwing across his body. It just wasn't quite Kluber-esque. Saying that, he gets through seven innings and gives up a ground ball down the third-base line for the last two runs. If that's the worst of Corey, we're in pretty good shape."
• Dating back to Aug. 10, when Walters was promoted from Triple-A Columbus, he has led the Indians in home runs (four) and was tied for the team lead in RBIs (six). All four of Walters' home runs either gave Cleveland a lead (three) or tied a game (one). Entering Friday, seven of Walters' 15 hits (46.7 percent) in the Majors this season have been homers.
• Triple-A Columbus outfielder James Ramsey, who was acquired from the Cardinals in the July 30 trade that sent Justin Masterson to St. Louis, went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs on Thursday. Through 19 games with Columbus, Ramsey has hit .284 with two homers, nine extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.