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LaPorta tries first things first

By Sheldon Published: September 16, 2009

Matt LaPorta doesn't have an official description yet, as in Indians starting right or left fielder or regular first baseman.

Nothing wrong with that. LaPorta is a rookie with fewer than 40 big-league games on his resume. In most of those, he has played the outfield. But in two of three games against the Minnesota Twins this week, he has moved to first base.

‘‘He made a good pick (Monday night) at a big time in the game,’’ Indians manager Eric Wedge said. ‘‘I'd like to get him out there more. He's done a lot of work at first with (coach) Luis Rivera.’’

Until two weeks ago, Wedge was saying that La Porta would tackle first base at a later date, maybe next spring. That playing two outfield positions was enough for now.

But for some reason, the timetable changed. Maybe because there is no obvious successor to Ryan Garko, who was traded to the San Francisco Giants in July.

‘‘Potentially that could be Matt's position,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘It depends on the supporting cast. We have a lot of outfielders. First base is a place we still have to decide who's going to be there.’’

Fans probably think of LaPorta as someone who has been an outfielder first. Not so.

‘‘At college (U of Florida) in '07, I was the everyday first baseman,’’ LaPorta said. ‘‘I never played the outfield before I was drafted.’’

Yet in the minor leagues he has mostly played left and right, though he was aware that might change.

‘‘When I was in Milwaukee, they said I might play first, so I got a first baseman's glove,’’ LaPorta said. ‘‘But I never played there. They said the same thing when I came here. But I didn't play first until a couple of months ago.’’

LaPorta will gladly play either the outfield or first, whatever allows him to stay in the big leagues. But first base has its advantages.

‘‘I'm enjoying it now,’’ he said. ‘‘It's about being comfortable there. First is more of a skill position, being in the infield. So it's a little hard to get back to where I was a couple of years ago (in college). Plus up here, the game is as lot faster.’’

LaPorta enjoys first base for another reason: He has someone to talk to, even if they're opposing runners.

‘‘I like that part of the game,’’ he said. ‘‘I just chat with guys, ask, ‘How you doing?’ You don't have to know someone to ask how things are going.’’

LaPorta said he has no ulterior motive in talking to baserunners, like distracting them.

‘‘I don't play the game like that,’’ he said.


Fausto Carmona will finish out the season in the Indians' rotation, but then what? Should he go to winter ball and pitch more innings or take a break from baseball entirely.

‘‘It's (winter ball) is something we're talking about,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘I don't think we're going to do anything in-between. It's going to be one way or the other. It's just been an odd year for Fausto.’’

And a miserable one in which he is burdened with a 3-11 record and 6.58 ERA.

‘‘We're going to keep running him out there,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘We just hope he finds it, finds that zone where he can be consistent. He knows what he needs to do. It's just about command ` pounding the bottom of the zone.’’

It's also about Carmona's fragile psyche and staying focused when things go wrong on the field.

‘‘I think he's better than before,’’ Wedge said. ‘‘But that's an issue for him.’’


Asdrubal Cabrera fouled a ball of his knee in the ninth inning, tried to fight off the pain then went down on the turf and left the game.

He has a contusion but probably will have an X-ray before today's game in Oakland. He is listed as day-to-day, but it would be an upset if he played tonight.


Grady Sizemore underwent successful surgery Wednesday in Philadelphia to reinforce the lower left side of his abdominal wall in a 20-minute procedure that included making a small incision.

Sizemore will be begin the rehabilitation process in Cleveland and resume his normal offseason workout regimen at his Arizona home in November.

Right-hander Jason Knapp also underwent a successful procedure to remove loose bodies from his right shoulder in New York on Wednesday. He is expected to be fully recovered by spring training.


Mahoning Valley kept its hopes for a New York-Penn League title alive with a 3-2 win over Staten Island to even the best-of-three final series at one game apiece. Marty Popham gave up two runs and four hits in five innings, and Chun-Hsiu Chen homered and singled, driving in a run. Argenis Martinez had two hits and one RBI.


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