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Lonnie Chisenhall identifies similarities between Pirates and perennially playoff-bound Indians

Chris Adamski
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Cleveland Indians' Lonnie Chisenhall hits an RBI single during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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When Lonnie Chisenhall made his major-league debut in 2011, the Cleveland Indians were on the verge of following up two losing seasons with one in which they won 80 games.

He’s recently joined the Pittsburgh Pirates under similar circumstances: the Pirates just followed up two losing seasons by last year winning 81 games.

The Pirates hope the similarities don’t end there. Cleveland had had winning records in six of the seven seasons since, making the playoffs four times and winning the past three American League Central division titles.

Could the Pirates enjoy a similar fate? Chisenhall, who joined the Pirates as a free agent , believes so.

“The teams have a similar makeup,” the 30-year-old outfielder said. “Both are young, both are hungry and the pitching staffs are great. The back end of the bullpen looks very solid, the defense is going to be good…

“So all that together makes a good ballclub. There’s definitely some similarities, and that’s kind of what made the decision (to sign with the Pirates) an easy one.”

A North Carolina native who went to high school, junior college and university in the Carolinas, Chisenhall was embraced as a fan favorite in the Rust Belt city of Cleveland. As he embarks on beginning 2019 as the Pirates’ starting rightfielder (transitioning to a super-utility backup at all the corner infield and outfield spots once Gregory Polanco returns from shoulder surgery in May or June), Chisenhall hopes to forge a similar connection with Pittsburgh.

“It’s very similar to where I’m coming from,” the lefthanded-hitting Chisenhall said. “I feel pretty good about the team as far as the city makeup, the team makeup, things like that. It’s what makes for a good ballclub,”

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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at [email protected] or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.