Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack Hannahan, Indians Likely Opening Day Third Baseman

Heading into this off season, the question about who would man third base on a long-term basis for the Cleveland Indians wasn't much of a question - Lonnie Chisenhall is the future. But in the interim, the team was looking at a group of players that weren't ideally suited for the job. Mostly converted middle infielders who needed a place to play. Last years opening day second baseman Luis Valbuena wass in the mix, as was former second baseman Jayson Nix, who ended 2010 as the teams third baseman.

But the man who seemed to have won the job, was former shortstop Jason Donald. Unfortunately Donald was hit on the hand with a pitch this spring, and though X-Rays have come back negative for a break, he's still experiencing pain and swelling and won't be ready for opening day. That meant that the 3rd base job, at least for opening day, was once again open.

The most likely candidate to fill the role however, is a someone no one likely would've expected at the beginning of the season: Jack Hannahan. A former first round pick of the Detroit Tigers, he made his debut with the team back in 2006. But since then has bounced around, seeing time with the Oakland, Seattle, and Boston franchises.

The As gave Hannahan his best, and what I think most people probably thought would be his last, chance to start. After posting solid numbers in part time work during the 2007 season, the club handed him more than 400 plate appearances in 2008, but his performance was terrible, and he posted an OPS of just .647. Since then Hannahan has had trouble getting on the field, and hasn't done anything with the time he has gotten.

But with Donald down, Hannahan has had an impressive spring, hitting .386 with a .981 OPS in 44 at-bats. While that performance is without a doubt nothing more than a flash in the pan, the Indians seem satisfied to stick with the hot hand and will likely end up giving him one last chance to start in the Majors, however brief that opportunity may be.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both,, and He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.

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