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Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall headed to DL

Lonnie Chisenhall will begin the season on the disabled list. AP Photo/LM Otero

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cleveland Indians starting right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list with an injured left wrist.

Chisenhall, who made a successful conversion from third base to right last season, was nursing a tight right forearm and was cleared to play Sunday. He reported soreness in his left wrist Monday, however, and the Indians will place him on the DL later this week.

"We are going to see a lot of left-handers early," manager Terry Francona said. "We can bring him off when we come into Tampa [April 12]. He will travel to Texas with us and to Cleveland because he is part of our team and figure out where we can get him at-bats."

The Indians don't have to set their roster until opening day. They start at home April 4 against Boston.

With Chisenhall and Michael Brantley (shoulder) out, the Indian will begin the season missing their starting corner outfielders. Brantley made significant progress during camp, but the Indians decided to slow him down after just a couple spring games.

To fill the outfield void, Marlon Byrd and Collin Cowgill will be on the opening-day roster, as will reliever Dan Otero.

Cowgill is hitting just .122 in 18 Cactus League games, but has been swinging the bat better lately. He hit a pair of doubles on Thursday and a three-run homer on Sunday.

"I'm glad he's feeling better about himself, but those aren't the things that help you make the club," Francona said. "The defense that he brings and the baserunning are things we value in that role [fourth or fifth outfielder]."

Byrd, who signed a minor league contract earlier this month, is batting .467 with five doubles in 15 at-bats.

"That was a tough evaluation," Francona said. "You look at his track record and he's averaging 20 home runs a year. That's pretty significant. You just want to be sure when a guy is getting to be that age, they're not slowing down. When he's on the bases, he's moving really well. He's getting to fastballs. He's a smart hitter and he's not a guy that is only going to face lefties. His splits are so minimal. He's had production against righties and lefties."

"I always thought Marlon would play for me but I thought it was going to be in Philadelphia," Francona said. "That was three organizations ago."

As they prepare for their opener, the Indians also optioned left-hander Kyle Crockett to Triple-A Columbus.

"I thought Crock actually had a pretty good camp," Francona said. "He was stronger. He had an improved breaking ball. With off days, knowing when he would be able to pitch would benefit him."

Francona said Jose Ramirez will be on the roster as a utility player.

"We recognize he's started out slow a couple years but he's done a really good job," Francona said. "There is so much versatility with him. We will try to get him in left field some this week but we want him to play short too. If something happens to (Francisco) Lindor, he's the guy."

"But we can pinch run for Uribe late in the game and put Jose at third. With his speed and his athleticism I think he'll be serviceable in the outfield and I think he'll improve," he said.

Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson are still competing for the fifth starter's spot.

"We want to get through the split squad [Tuesday] and hopefully we can sort out the pitching and where everyone is going," Francona said.