Chisenhall’s Shine May Put The Lights Out On Giambi

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Lonnie Chisenhall’s transformation into the hitter we all were waiting for him to be may trigger the beginning of the end for all-time great Jason Giambi. Chisenhall was a question mark coming into the season after not performing up to his potential in the last two seasons. He quickly squashed that question mark with his gaudy .385 average, 7 HRs and 32 RBI’s. Chisenhall has played his way into an everyday spot at 3rd base. With Chisenhall demanding every day At-Bats with his play, Francona is left to make some difficult roster decisions. One of those decisions will likely be an unpleasant one for him as it could be the end of the line for “his guy” Giambi.

Nick Swisher made his first of two rehab starts with the AA Akron Rubberducks tonight. Swisher played five innings at first base and went 0-2 at the plate. When asked about how he felt he said “It’s nice to have my legs underneath me again….The swing is quick, more direct.”Swisher also commented about how anxious he was to get back with Indians who had won nine of their last ten going into play tonight. The plan is for Swisher to play again tomorrow with AA Akron and then rejoin the Indians on Friday, June 12th in Boston, where they will start a four game series against the Red Sox.

The question now is what will Manager Terry Francona do with his lineup when Swisher returns? He has numbers issues with his active roster. Carlos Santana just returned from a 7 day stint on the DL. When Santana was first shut down, it was due to what they thought was an illness. It was later that he was placed on the 7 day DL for concussions. The symptoms that he had been showing were attributed to hits to his head. Since his return Santana has not played catcher at all and the team has been carrying another catcher in George Kottaras. With Santana’s struggles at the plate and his defensive ineptitude behind the plate mixed with the head shots it becomes a question whether or not the Indians intend to use him as their back up catcher anymore. This would mean that the Indians would be forced to carry Kottaras or another catcher for the long haul.

With Swisher and Chisenhall most likely on the lineup card daily, Francona will likely get Santana At-Bats in the DH role. This still leaves Mike Aviles performing at a high level to work into the mix. It will be nearly impossible for Francona to justify carrying Giambi on the active roster. Surely, this will be a difficult call for the Tribe manager as he has done nothing but shower Giambi with compliments since the beginning of the 2013 season. Giambi has been a big part of developing a winning culture in the Indians clubhouse and has often been credited with having a positive influence on many of the young tribe players. Giambi provided the Indians with a lift during their 2013 run to the playoffs with several dramatic walk-off home runs.

Francona was questioned at the beginning of the year when he decided to keep Giambi on the active roster but we have reached a point in which that luxury is gone. Giambi is one of the best hitters in the last 20 years and a beloved teammate. However it appears that the shine of Lonnie Chisenhall may be what turns out the lights on a magical career. As far as what options Francona has when it comes to Giambi, the 60 day DL would open up a spot on the 25 and 40 man roster. The DL would also allow Giambi to still travel with the team and continue to help the Indians in a coaching type role. Giambi is a lock to get a managerial job when he does announce his retirement and was actually one of the final candidates for the Colorado Rockies position before signing on with the Tribe and Francona in 2013.

 

By: Brad Ward

Follow @CST_BradWard on Twitter

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