When the 2015 season started, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and shortstop Jose Ramirez both had key roles with the Cleveland Indians. As everyday players, they had plenty of chances to show their skills with the major league club. However, early struggles haunted both of them. Ramirez batted just .180, with a .487 OPS, and Chisenhall hit just .209/.241/.345 in the first two months of the season.
Both players were sent to Triple-A Columbus in early June, to try to regain their ability to be productive hitters, and they haven’t been back since. In the meantime, Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor have filled in on the left side of the infield. Lindor is batting just .207/.239/.503 himself, and it seems more and more like the Indians were serious when they said he wasn’t ready to face major league pitching just yet.
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Despite being replaced by prospects, Chisenhall and Ramirez haven’t been sulking and feeling sorry for themselves in Triple-A. Both players are actively trying to make themselves into more versatile fielders. Chisenhall is beginning to spend time at first base and even in the outfield, which is definitely good for his stock. Ramirez is similarly trying to expand his defensive capabilities, presumably with the hope of taking Mike Aviles‘s spot as the Tribe’s utility man.
Chisenhall and Ramirez are both hitting the ball well, too. Chisenhall is batting .296/.355/.459 and seems to have found his power once again. Ramirez is absolutely punishing the ball, as he is batting .360/.425/.490, with 11 stolen bases – demonstrating the kind of speed he is known for. If the two infielders can keep it up, they will be able to make a positive impact with the Tribe soon.
It isn’t time to call them up just yet, but it is getting close. The reason they were sent down is to fix their offense, and they have done so in a remarkable amount of time. The fact that they have gone out of their way to begin learning as many positions as possible goes to show how hard they are working to rejoin the big league club.
If Lindor continues to struggle at the plate, and Urshela does not make a bigger impact, it may be time to consider giving Ramirez and Chisenhall another chance. Chisenhall has had several chances, and he’s never been able to capitalize on them, but he typically does hit well when he comes back from a stint in the minors.
The Indians have been winning more often, and they have yet to play themselves out of the race. They desperately need whatever offense they can get. If Chisenhall and Ramirez can provide more help at the plate than Lindor and Urshela, the Tribe should make the switch. And if their production at Columbus is any indication, they have both made drastic improvements that warrant another look.