Chisenhall says he's ready to play Thursday
Rookie was hit by a pitch in the face last week vs. Blue Jays
CLEVELAND -- If you looked at Lonnie Chisenhall, you wouldn't be confident in his ability to see, let alone play baseball. But the third baseman -- red eye, bruised cheek and all -- insists he has been cleared to play Thursday.
The rookie took a fastball to the face from Blue Jays pitcher Carlos Villanueva last Thursday. He suffered a sinus fracture and sat out the remainder of the series against Toronto.
The colored part of Chisenhall's right eye is engulfed in a sea of red. He has a crescent-shaped bruise under the eye and a scrape from the seams of the baseball on his cheekbone. He said it looks worse than it is.
"The first two or three days were really bad," Chisenhall said, "but now the swelling is pretty much gone. I just have the redness around the eye, but that won't be gone for about a month or so."
The Indians added a protective piece to the cheek area of Chisenhall's helmet. Villanueva's pitch nicked the helmet's earflap, diverting some of the blow away from his face.
"It looks like he's gone a couple rounds with Mike Tyson," Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said a day after Chisenhall took the knockout punch.
Chisenhall said Villanueva reached out to apologize.
"He said he was just trying to come in and throw a strike," Chisenhall said. "I get thrown in a lot. I know he didn't mean anything by it."
Chisenhall passed vision tests and showed no signs of a concussion. While at Triple-A Columbus, he missed nine games in June with a concussion after a slide into third base.
Chisenhall said he had to ice his face twice an hour last week to help reduce the swelling. That made it easier for him to recognize the man in the mirror.
"It swelled up really fast," Chisenhall said, "so I didn't really recognize myself."
Indians aim to stay loose during playoff chase
CLEVELAND -- The start of the second half means the regular-season calendar is winding down and the playoff hunt is heating up. In the mix for the first time since 2007, the Indians don't seem to be phased by the pressure.
"I hope we don't go out there and try to top anything," reliever Tony Sipp said. "I hope we try to stay loose like we did in the first half."
The Indians lost their last three games before the All-Star break to the Blue Jays. In doing so, they lost their grip on first place in the American League Central, as they stand one-half game behind the Tigers entering play Thursday.
The Tribe started the season 30-15, but have gone just 17-27 since. During that stretch, the team was without center fielder Grady Sizemore, designated hitter Travis Hafner and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo for stretches, which hasn't helped a lineup that has struggled to produce runs. Still, despite the multitude of injuries and the team's inconsistent hitting, the Indians have proven resilient.
"We're challenging each other," pitcher Justin Masterson said. "We're battling within our own ranks."
The Indians open the second half against a Baltimore team looking for a fresh start. The Orioles have lost seven games in a row and 12 of 13.
"It's really important to come out strong," Sipp said. "I'm not saying we have something to prove, but we still want to make a statement that we are a good team and that everything we did in the first half isn't a fluke."
Right-hander Alex White, recovering from a sprained middle finger on his right hand, said he hasn't had any setbacks and hopes to be back on the field in the next two to four weeks.
The majority of the team showed up to Progressive Field on Wednesday afternoon for an optional workout.
Because the Tigers assumed control of first place in the division on Sunday, the Indians still have not reached the All-Star break atop the AL Central since 1999, when they held a 13-game lead.
Indians manager Manny Acta, who pitched to Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez during Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby, said the "whole right side" of his body was still sore. Gonzalez finished runner-up to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.