Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – The platoon situations in the outfield have developed ahead of maybe what they were thought to be headed into the season.
Most expected Abraham Almonte to be optioned to Columbus upon the return of Lonnie Chisenhall, leaving Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer to platoon against righties and lefties, respectively.
When Tyler Naquin was instead sent down, it created a situation where Chisenhall and Austin Jackson shared platoon duties in center field, with Almonte and Guyer handling the job in right.
Chisenhall has played a satisfactory center, mostly because of the strength of his arm, but maybe more importantly, Jackson has proven to be solid in his role. Coming off of knee surgery that limited him to 54 games last season with the White Sox, the righty has appeared in 10 contests for the Tribe in 2017, splitting .296/.387/.556.
Manager Terry Francona has been impressed with the man who was initially signed to a minor league deal.
“I think he deserves a ton of credit for getting himself in game shape as quickly as he did because, I think when people see a knee scope they say, ‘little knee scope,’” Francona said. “He had a lot done in there and he missed a fair amount of time. When he got the OK from the trainers, he was going game speed pretty quickly, which was impressive, but he maintained it.”
Tito conceded that Jackson does not run as well as he did before his knee troubles, and it has shown defensively, where advanced metrics show he has been suboptimal in center, but Francona maintained the right-hander has been dependable.
“Always in the right spot, he moves well pre-pitch,” he added.
Chisenhall has thrived through a similar 10 games, splitting .333/.375/.633, with 9 RBI in 33 plate appearances.
The left-hander has been positive defensively in some aspects and according to some advanced metrics, while other areas of his defense have been below average. Overall, his arm and hitting prowess have made him a plus-player in center.
In right, much has been made about the improvements to Almonte’s game, especially at the plate.
Things have not started as well for Guyer, who is in the midst of the worst start of his career. The lefty-hitting specialist has just four hits in 31 plate appearances, though his last was a big home run in Chicago over the weekend.
Guyer is not worried.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “A little slower process than it has probably ever been for me in the big leagues.
“You know, I feel good at the plate. I don’t think I’m swinging at bad pitches, I’m getting at good counts for the most part. It’s just a weird game, you’re going to be hot and cold. I’m cold right now. I know that will change. I’ll keep putting the work in, brighter days are ahead.”
What is different from most players in the midst of a slump is the fact that Guyer is not in the lineup every day. That is something which the player himself did not give a whole lot of credence to, though his manager admitted it was a factor.
“When you don’t play every day, sometimes you can’t back up those at-bats. So they can come and go a little bit,” Francona said. “I still fall back on the ‘guys get to their level.’ And when he does, there probably will be some damage in there, there will be some home runs, some RBIs. I wish I could explain it a little better, but I think that’s just the way it is. Guys get to their level and when they do, like I say, if you kind of run away, you miss out on them. Or they may not get to that level if you run away from them.”