MINNEAPOLIS: Manny Acta said it was all part of the plan.
Activating Russell Branyan from the disabled list on Tuesday and making room for him on the roster by optioning Michael Brantley to Columbus were set in stone at least several days earlier.
""That was the plan all along,'' the Indians manager said, when asked if it was ever a choice between Brantley and the Tribe's other prized rookie, Matt LaPorta.
""We feel that Matt is farther along as a player than Michael,'' Acta said. ""He's a little older.''
Moreover, even though Branyan was told he would have to play consecutive games at first base in Akron Monday and Tuesday before being activated, Acta said the decision had been made earlier to take him off the disabled list Tuesday.
How will Branyan and LaPorta be used?
""For now, Branyan will play four times a week,'' the manager said. ""LaPorta will play first the other days and will be in left the rest of the time. I think he can handle that. Left is his natural position.''
However, LaPorta didn't even take fly balls in spring training in anticipation that he would start the season at first base, when it became clear that Branyan's herniated disc would keep him on the DL for most of April.
""LaPorta was coming back from two injuries, so we didn't want him bouncing back and forth from first to the outfield,'' Acta said. ""Otherwise, he would have played both positions.''
In consideration of the fact that LaPorta hasn't played the outfield for even one inning this season, he won't be stationed in left until Thursday, after spending two days getting acclimated to the position.
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