The uncertainty at third base for the Indians has finally come to an end, for now. Manny Acta named Jack Hannahan the opening day starter at third base. He will fill the spot that was likely to be taken by Jason Donald. However, after getting hit by a pitch on the hand, Donald was bound to miss some considerable time.
Hannahan is a great story, as he was out of the majors last year. He spent 2009 on the Mariners, but could not make their roster last season. He was invited to the Indians camp as a non-roster invite and was expected to be in the minor league camp. He proved that he belonged in the big leagues. This spring in Goodyear he is hitting .375 in 48 at bats.
His main competition was Jayson Nix, who played some time at third last season. He was decent at the plate but he made too many errors at third to play there every day. In spring he is only hitting .167 in 30 at bats. Nix will still be on the major league roster even though he has struggled this spring.
The problem of who to play at third will arise again once Donald is healthy. After being called up last season due to the injury of Asdrubal Cabrera, he hit .253 with 24 rbi’s. He fell into the starting role at third once Jhonny Peralta was traded to Detroit.
A player who is still on the roster that is often forgotten is Luis Valbuena. He primarily plays second, but the team had thoughts of putting him at third with all of the uncertainty that they had at the position. Valbuena’s problem is his offense. In 91 games last season he hit .193 with 24 rbi’s. That is the same number of rbi’s as Donald, but Donald’s average was much better.
An average of .193 will not cut it in the majors, but the Indians are giving Valbuena another chance. If he cannot produce this season he could be part of a trade in the near future.