Lonnie Chisenhall DL Bound After Straining Calf… Again

Baseball is a cruel mistress. In the latest episode of “What the hell are the Indians going to do now,” Lonnie Chisenhall is headed back to the disabled list.

If this is supposed to be some sort of hilarious joke courtesy of the baseball gods, I fail to see the humor.

The move to send Chisenhall back to the DL comes as a major blow. Despite missing time already this season, April 8 through June 5, Chisenhall has been one of the most stable and reliable bats in the Indians lineup. Similar to last year’s breakout success, Chisenhall was once again hitting well above .300 with 11 homers and 46 RBI. For two years now, it has appeared as though Chisenhall is finally coming into his own, only to have his seasons derailed by the same recurring calf issues.

Lonnie Chisenhall

What is going on with Chisenhall’s calves?

The fact that Chisenhall has had a recurring issue with a soft tissue injury is not surprising. Issues with muscles can be tricky. They aren’t like a broken bone, which you can visually observe as healed and that’s that. Issues with soft tissues can easily recur and often may be symptomatic of something the player is doing incorrectly.

A few examples of this may be the player’s pregame stretching routine not properly focusing on the are in question. It may also be caused by a workout routine, diet, water intake, literally anything that can affect how the muscle functions. It could also point to something structural or biomechanical (how the player moves, runs, walks, etc.) Given the fact that the issue continues to recur and is not limited to one calf or the other, but both, it would seem to indicate something Chisenhall is doing or not doing.

Where do the Indians go from here?

With Chisenhall headed back to the DL, expect to see a healthy dose of Tyler Naquin in right field and Rajai Davis in center. As for the corresponding roster move, that’s more uncertain. The Indians could choose to go in one of two directions.

The first, and most logical choice would be to recall Greg Allen. If you remember, Allen spent a good portion of the season with the Indians while Chisenhall, Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer recovered from various injuries. Allen performed well up until his demotion back to Columbus. Terry Francona seems to trust his ability both at the plate and in the field. Allen would help complement the Indians various outfield platoon options.

The second and more interesting option would be to promote their top prospect, Francisco Mejia. While Mejia is primarily a catcher, the Indians have moved him around the diamond quite a bit in order to find him a place with the big league club. In theory, Mejia could platoon in right while also getting innings behind the plate. This would allow him to get the big league at bats he so desperately needs. In his two call ups from the minors, Mejia’s playing time has been limited, and that’s being generous.

Francisco Mejia
Francisco Mejia during a stint with the Indians

Of course, there is also the issue of big league service time to take into account. As a future cornerstone of the franchise, the Indians are unlikely to promote Mejia to the big league club when another viable option is available in Allen. While a move such as that can be frustrating, for a team like the Indians, this is a factor that must be taken into consideration. For that reason, expect Allen to get the call-up.

What about Chisenhall?

As for Chisenhall, it is imperative the Indians figure out what is going on with him physically. We’ve seen the value a healthy Chisenhall can have on this lineup. He is the best possible option to hit behind Edwin in the 5-hole. Chisenhall has also proven himself to be an above average right fielder defensively. Losing him for a prolonged period of time is going to hurt. Continuing to lose him could be a disaster.