BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Lonnie Chisenhall knows his new gig as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting right fielder is likely temporary.
Gregory Polanco is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and the Pirates say he will be out until sometime between mid-April and mid-June. Chisenhall was signed to a $2.75 million, one-year contract in the offseason to serve as the fill-in.
The Pirates feel Chisenhall can be a valuable option off the bench once Polanco is healthy. He began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians as a third baseman and is also capable of playing first base as well as the three outfield positions.
It will mark the first time in Chisenhall’s nine years in the majors that he will be a bench player.
“Versatility is the way the game is trending now,” Chisenhall said. “Guys need to play multiple positions. You have to be able to affect the game in different areas. I’m just trying to stay the course.
“You have to be open-minded and willing to grow. I needed to change and make myself more versatile. It’s something I pride myself in. It’s a lot of extra work. But there is always room to grow.”
Chisenhall had spent his entire professional career in the Indians’ organization since being their first-round draft pick in 2008. The Pirates selected Chisenhall in the 11th round two years earlier following his senior year of high school in Morehead City, North Carolina, but he opted to attend the University of South Carolina.
Not surprisingly, spring training has been a bit of an adjustment period for him.
“You can do all the handshakes and meet-and-greets you want during spring training but until you’re in a game during the regular season, that’s when you get to know the players,” Chisenhall said. “I’m trying to accelerate that.”
This also marks Chisenhall’s first spring training in Florida. When it was mentioned that the travel is much easier to teams in Arizona, Chisenhall smiled.
“I like to fish so I’ve enjoyed Florida,” Chisenhall said. “It’s hard to go fishing in Arizona.”
Chisenahall is hoping to stay healthy this season. Last year, he was limited to 29 games because of injuries to both calves.
“My goal this season is just to be on the field,” Chisenhall said.
Polanco is trying to get back on the field. He is hitting without restriction, but his throwing is limited to 120 feet.
“I’m feeling stronger every week, but I also know I have to be patient,” Polanco said. “I put too much work into my rehab to try to come back too soon and mess it all up.”
NOTES: The Pirates made their first roster cuts of the spring Saturday by optioning RHPs JT Brubaker, Luis Escobar and Mitch Keller to Triple-A Indianapolis and reassigning LHPs Elvis Escobar and Blake Weiman, RHPs Dario Agrazal and Eduardo Vera and C Jason Delay to minor league camp. . LF Corey Dickerson left Saturday’s 10-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins after the third inning with right ankle discomfort following an awkward slide but was walking without a limp after the game.