Hannahan at the Hot Corner

With the roster moves that came down the pipeline this morning, some of the biggest news of the day involved the announcement that Jack Hannahan would be the Indians’ starting third baseman to begin the season. Hanny was nice enough to share his reaction with TribeVibe and he also talked about getting off to a quick start after being sidelined for just over a week with a mid-back strain (2-for-2, 2 doubles yesterday vs. Milwaukee). Overall this spring, he is batting .300 (6-20) with 3 doubles, a home run and 5 RBI, while playing the kind of defense Jack has become known for.

Obviously decisions like these have ramifications for other players in camp and this one was no exception, as Lonnie Chisenhall was optioned to Triple-A Columbus where he will be the Clippers’ Opening Day third baseman and have the opportunity to receive regular playing time. Anytime a move is made involving one of the club’s top prospects it elicits a number of passionate responses from fans, but it’s important to maintain perspective and remember how the game of baseball has a way of teaching us all patience time and time again. At 23 years, 5 months and 23 days of age (as of March 27), Lonnie is currently the third-youngest player on the Indians 40-man roster. The only two players on the 40-man who have taken fewer trips around the sun are infielder Juan Diaz (23 years, 3 months, 15 days) and right-hander Danny Salazar (22 years, 2 months, 16 days) – incidentally, RHP Jeanmar Gomez is 4th-youngest (24 years, 1 month, 17 days). Like most other prospects their age, Juan and Danny finished the 2011 season at Double-A Akron and Low-A Lake County, respectively, while Lonnie spent the last 3 months of the year as the youngest member of the Indians Major League roster. To reiterate what Manny Acta touched on today, Lonnie’s been one of the youngest players at every level of his professional career thus far. As a 22-year-old, he batted .255 (54-212) with 13 doubles, 7 homers and 22 RBI in 66 games for the Tribe, which stirs up memories of another former Indian who debuted at the same position. As many will recall, Jim Thome originally came up with the Tribe at the hot corner before making the transition to first base. In 3 seasons between 1991-93, Jim combined to hit .244 (90-369) with 18 doubles, 10 homers and 43 RBI in 114 games at roughly the same age as Lonnie – Jim debuted with the Tribe as a 21-year-old in ’91 and turned 23 shortly after joining the club during the ’93 campaign. While we all remember the outstanding career Jim had during his time in Cleveland, it’s healthy to recognize and respect the hard work, learning and repetition that was required to build it.

(Kudos to Danny Steele of the Indians Baseball Information Dept. for research support)

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