CLEVELAND — Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday night’s series opener against the Brewers. But instead of Greg Allen, it was Bradley Zimmer who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Chisenhall.
“Offensively it’s been a struggle for him. The strikeouts. We talked to him about that,” manager Terry Francona said of Zimmer, who is batting .226 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 34 games, striking out 44 times over 106 at-bats. “A lot of guys have gone back to Triple-A and worked on their game and then come back. We fully believe that will happen with Zim. We want that. He’s our best center fielder.
“Trying to make some of the adjustments at the major league level can be hard. If you’re striking out 40 percent of the time, you’ve got to really be doing some damage when you hit the ball. And he understood that. He said he knows he needs to make some adjustments.”
Since an 0-for-14 start to his big league career, Allen had raised his batting average to .263 — hitting .345 (10-for-29) with three doubles, a triple, a homer, two RBIs and eight runs over his last eight games through Monday.
“When a guy plays like (Allen) has, it allows you to do something that maybe you weren’t sure that you could,” Francona said of sending Zimmer down.
The Indians have more looming decisions in the outfield with Brandon Guyer (neck strain) set to leave the disabled list Friday and Tyler Naquin (left hamstring strain) in the midst of a minor league rehab assignment.
For the time being, Francona will try to find playing time for Chisenhall and Melky Cabrera in right field. Chisenhall started Tuesday, while Cabrera was out of the lineup for the third straight game.
“Mixing and matching is probably the right word,” Francona said. “Melky certainly fills a spot pinch-hitting because he’s a switch-hitter. We usually try to work two to three days ahead. We’ll look at it like we always do. I don’t have the exact answer in front of me, though.”
Chisenhall played seven rehab games for Columbus and Double-A Akron, batting .286 (8-for-28) with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
“He’s fine. He’s healthy,” Francona said. “The last thing you want is a question mark when somebody comes back. And he did all the things he was supposed to do, so he’s ready to go.”
Left-hander Andrew Miller (right knee inflammation) is scheduled to throw a side session today at Progressive Field.
There is still no timetable for Miller’s return and it is uncertain whether he will pitch on a rehab assignment before leaving the injured list.
“Some of it may depend on how long it is, how he feels, the amount of unknowns, if there are some. We’ll see,” Francona said. “We’ll work through it together.”
Former Indians prospect Jesus Aguilar was in the lineup for the first-place Brewers, batting third and playing first base.
Aguilar, 27, was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee from Cleveland prior to last year, batting .265 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 133 games for the Brewers.
“You know what, I hope he doesn’t beat us, but good for him,” Francona said of Aguilar, who was hitting .309 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in 52 games through Monday. “He got his chance and he’s making the most of it. We’re really happy for him.”
With Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana filling the first base role, there was no room for Aguilar on Cleveland’s big league roster.
“He didn’t really get a chance here, and I admit that. And he got a chance somewhere else and he took advantage of it,” Francona said. “That’s why we talk to guys when we take them off rosters. We never tell them that they can’t play. We just tell them that we’ve made a decision that somebody at the moment’s ahead of them.”
A number of Indians players, including shortstop Francisco Lindor, third baseman Jose Ramirez and Brad Mills, wore Cavaliers “Whatever it Takes” shirts during pregame activities.
Former Browns players Joe Thomas and Andrew Hawkins recorded their “ThomaHawk,” podcast at Progressive Field prior to the game.
Thomas took batting practice and swung it pretty well, lacing a number of line drives into right-center field, before throwing out a ceremonial first pitch to a standing ovation.
Right-hander Adam Plutko was named International League player of the week after tossing a no-hitter in Columbus’ 9-1 victory at Syracuse on Saturday.
Plutko, who has made three starts for the Indians (3-0, 3.93 ERA) this season and is expected to return to the rotation Tuesday, struck out eight and missed a perfect game by walking one.
First-round draft pick (29th overall) Noah Naylor is just the fourth catcher ever taken by the Indians in the first round, joining Tim Glass (1977), Rick Cerrone (1976) and Ray Fosse, who was chosen in the first MLB Draft in 1965. Naylor was selected out of St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Mississauga, Ontario.
Cleveland made three other selections on the first day of the draft Monday — RHP Ethan Hankins (Forsyth Central High School in Georgia) with the 35th overall pick, RHP Lenny Torres Jr. (Beacon High School in New York) with the 41st overall pick and RHP Nick Sandlin (Southern Mississippi University) with the 67th overall pick (second round).
Rounds 3-10 took place Tuesday, with the draft wrapping up today with rounds 11-40.
The Indians are one of two teams (Yankees) in the majors with five players who have hit at least 10 homers and one of two teams (Red Sox) with five players who have collected at least 30 RBIs — Ramirez (18 homers, 41 RBIs), Edwin Encarnacion (16, 40), Lindor (14, 35), Yonder Alonso (11, 33) and Michael Brantley (10, 38). It is the fastest (58 games) that five Cleveland players accomplished as much since Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Paul Sorrento and Jim Thome (56 games in 1995).