In tonight’s broadcast of the Indians-Orioles game, Gary Thorne — I’ve taken to listening to the opponent’s announcers due to the unfathomable ineptitude of Cleveland’s own — mentioned that Lonnie Chisenhall had the name of a country singer. Chisenhall might want to take note that his options are open, because the whole big-league-baseball-player thing isn’t going so well.

Chisenhall, a former first round pick, had the Indians as high as a kite for the couple of years that he spent tearing up the minors. His slash line in Single-A ball was .282/.350/.458. In Double-A he was a respectable .262/.333/.439, hitting 21 HR with 97 RBIs in 142 games. Chisenhall arrived at Triple-A Columbus with Cleveland on his mind: after hitting .267/.353/.431 through 66 games, he got the call to the majors. Chisenhall was 22. The Indians were in 2nd place, trailing Detroit by 1 game in the AL Central.

At the time, the Indians’ starting third baseman was Jack Hannahan. I really like Hannahan, but he does not elicit thoughts of “everyday third baseman,” and, unless you are smoking Cleveland Rocks, he definitely does not elicit thoughts like “third baseman of the future.” The job was Chisenhall’s for the taking. In fact, the Indians were so confident that Chisenhall would be major league ready in 2011 or shortly thereafter, that from the time Jhonny Peralta was traded in 2010, they used Hannahan, Chisenhall and this list of clowns at third base:

-Luis Valbuena

-Anderson Hernandez

-Andy Marte

-Jayson Nix

-Orlando Cabrera

-Jack Hannahan

-Adam Everett

-Jose Lopez

-Jason Donald

-Cord Phelps

-Brent Lillibridge

-Mike Aviles

-Mark Reynolds

-John McDonald

Now, I’m not saying Reynolds or Aviles are garbage, but I am saying watching them attempt to play third base has taken years off my life. I’m sure Tito Francona would agree after a few Coors Banquets in the clubhouse, and that Tom Hamilton is drinking Coors Banquets somewhere, feeling the same way. John McDonald is a fine defensive player who makes all pitchers look like Danny Almonte.┬áThe reality is that the Indians were waiting for Lonnie Chisenhall, and they still are.

Chisenhall is now on the Indians active roster for the fourth time in three years. He has bounced back and forth because he has not performed. His line at Triple-A now stands at .305/.374/.506 lifetime, and this year — between trips to the majors — he has put on an absolute rake-show in Columbus: .390/.456/.676. Chisenhall has proven he is too good for the minors, but he has yet to prove he can be the Indians’ every day third baseman.

A year ago, Chisenhall was on his way to a supremely mediocre season — .268/.311/.430 — before suffering a broken right forearm that sidelined him from June, until the Indians were well out of contention. He was spoon-fed the starting job at third this season — make no mistake, Mark Reynolds and Mike Aviles were not signed to play third base — and he just couldn’t hack it. He had a batting average of .213 and an OPS of .604 when he was mercifully demoted to the minors on May 13th, just in time for my mother’s birthday (May 14th).

So what is going wrong at the big-league level? The most alarming split between Chisenhall’s numbers in the minors and his numbers in the majors is his K/BB ratio: with the Indians, Chisenhall has walked 20 times and struck out 100. In the minors, he walked 158 times compared to 298 strikeouts. His plate discipline is atrocious when he gets to Cleveland, which is not altogether surprising. The kid wants to produce, but he needs to slow down and remember to look for quality pitches.

Since he was called back up a week ago, it’s been more of the same. He has collected a handful of hits, sure, but he seems far too anxious to make something happen. In last night’s game with Baltimore, he came to plate with runners on first and second, nobody out, with the Indians trailing by three in the ninth. Jim Johnson was struggling with his command, having walked Carlos Santana to start off the inning. Mark Reynolds had singled on a poorly located fastball. You could almost see Lonnie’s face twitching, begging for a pitch to do some damage with. So when Johnson, a lethal sinker-baller, threw ball one, low and out of the zone, you thought to yourself: make him get the ball up. Of course, Chisenhall weakly grounded the next pitch, a sinker down and out of the zone, to 2nd base for the rally-killing double play.

Tonight, it was deja-vu all over again. Chisenhall came to bat with nobody out, the bases juiced, and the Indians trailing by one. Again, Johnson had walked the lead-off guy, and given up a base-hit to the second batter, Jason Giambi, on a first-pitch fastball. After intentionally walking Carlos Santana, Johnson threw strike one to Chisenhall, who I assume was told to take until the first strike after his eager performance the night prior. Again, Chisenhall grounded out to second. This time, he was able to beat the throw to first, and the tying run scored. But hitting ground balls to second base is not a sustainable way to help your team in big situations, and he was lucky to have beat the throw.

Lonnie needs to start waiting for his pitch, or the Indians are going to stop waiting for him.

Say, Lonnie, that almost sounds like a country song you might want to record…