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Francisco Lindor may no longer bat leadoff for Cleveland Indians

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona said on Monday that the team is exploring moving Francisco Lindor out of the team's lineup spot.

When the 2020 MLB season starts next month, Francisco Lindor might have a new home.

No, the Cleveland Indians haven't traded their All-Star shortstop -- at least not yet. But the team is toying with the idea of moving him out of the leadoff spot, which has been his place in the Indians' batting order for the better part of the past three seasons.

"I love Frankie leading off. I know Frankie loves leading off. I also know Frankie will do whatever we ask him to do," Cleveland manager Terry Francona told reporters in Goodyear, Arizona, on Monday. "At some point -- and it's not urgent now -- I'll sit down with him as our team starts to look like it's coming together. I'll sit down with a few guys and figure out where they have a comfort level and where I think they're most productive and then also where they think they're most productive."

When it comes to Lindor, the answer to those questions may be a matter of splitting hairs. Between his ability to hit for both average and power, as well as steal bases, there's really no bad place to put the 4-time All-Star in a lineup.

After primarily batting second and third in 2015 and 2016, Lindor moved into the leadoff spot around the midway point of the 2017 campaign. And it'd be tough to argue with the results, with the 2-time Silver Slugger having hit 18 career leadoff home runs, including a franchise-record eight in 2018.

Having amassed 130 career home runs, including at least 32 in each of the past three seasons, batting leadoff also ensures Lindor the most possible opportunities to get to the plate. But in a lineup otherwise short on proven power, it could behoove the Indians to put their franchise shortstop in a position to come to the plate with runners on base more often, especially with experienced leadoff hitters Cesar Hernandez and Delino DeShields Jr. now at the team's disposal.

Asked about the possibility of dropping down the lineup, Lindor acknowledged the potential positive effect it could have on an Indians offense that dropped from third in baseball in runs scored with 818 in 2018 to below the league average, ranking 15th with 769 in 2019.

"I gotta sit down and go over the lineup, but I think not leading off might benefit the team a little bit more," Lindor said. "I haven't really sat down and gone through where I would put who in what order, but I think with the speed we have this year and having less guys that will strike out, I don't know if leading off would benefit the team. We'll see."

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