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LaPorta's true character revealed in collision at plate

By sstorm Published: July 10, 2008

I've purposely waited a few days to write about Matt LaPorta, the hotshot slugger obtained as the center piece in the C.C. Sabathia trade.

Everyone else can hurry up and go on record to gush about him, but I just wanted to see him play first, a couple of games at least. It's only been three, but I feel a little better about weighing in. I fell even better about it in a week or two. Until then...

Stop right there. No, LaPorta did not blast a bunch of home runs like everyone is dying for him to do.

However, the Brewers No. 1 pick (seventh overall) in the 2007 draft is 5-for-11 with a .455 average for the Aeros - all five hits being singles through the left (pull) side of the infield.

No doubt some home runs will come. Though I suspect the 20 he launched in the Southern League during the first half of the season won't be matched here in the more pitcher-dominated Eastern League.

Yet, if all fans are waiting for is for LaPorta to hit some jacks, they're missing the point.

The true character of the 23-year-old came in the eighth inning of Thursday's 10-9 come-from-behind win over division-rival Bowie - and it had nothing to do with a bat.

With LaPorta on first base after a single, Wes Hodges drove a double deep to the left field corner and Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh didn't think twice about sending LaPorta, despite the fact that LaPorta might not beat Indians first baseman Ryan Garko in a foot race.

Between LaPorta's (lack of) speed and an on-the-money throw from Bowie's veteran left fielder Lou Montanez to rookie catcher Matt Wieters, LaPorta was a dead duck at the plate. But instead of assuming defeat, LaPorta bulldozed Wieters like a linebacker without pads.

Somehow Wieters held on to the ball. But after getting to his feet, the catcher took a few moments to compose himself, more than a wee bit woozy.

Meanwhile, LaPorta quickly gathered himself from the ground and headed for the dugout obviously upset he hadn't succeeded in knocking the ball loose nor severing Wieters' head from the rest of his body.

After the come-from-behind victory that felt so much like a playoff game, LaPorta shrugged off the play like it was an every day occurrence.

Something tells me he's gonna fit right in here in Akron. And maybe he'll a little, too.


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