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Cleveland Indians

LaPorta headed for everyday duty

By Sheldon Published: August 19, 2009

CLEVELAND: Matt LaPorta's future took a new turn Wednesday afternoon.

When Indians officials learned that Trevor Crowe's sore oblique would require a lengthier healing period than anticipated, LaPorta was summoned from Toledo, where Columbus was playing the Mud Hens.

The call to LaPorta came so late that an hour before the game, he had not yet arrived at Progressive Field. Consequently, he was not in the lineup against the Angels, but he probably will a fixture in either left field or first base the remainder of the season.

""He's been playing more first base down there, because he hadn't played there as much,'' manager Eric Wedge said. ""I'm not sure how he'll divide his time up here, but he will play regularly.'' [ep
LaPorta is making his second visit ot the big leagues. His first tour of duty began May 2 and lasted 24 days. In 13 games, he batted .190 with one home run and four RBI. [ep
Fans and some members of the media complained that LaPorta didn't receive enough playing time in his first stint with the Tribe, but Wedge said the club had other objectives, like trying to make sure LaPorta spent a period of time getting comfortable in the majors. [ep
""The speed of the game is the biggest adjustment,'' the manager said. ""When you get up here, it's a different world.
Wedge said that LaPorta had been considered as as call-up before Wednesday, but the idea had been rejected. [ep
""We talked about it,'' the manager said. ""One thing, he was making progress at Triple-A. Also, it would not have been fair to Matt. He hasn't had that much time down there. He needed all those Triple-A at-bats. he might need to do it again; we'll have to wait and see.'' [ep
LaPorta was the key acquisition in last year's trade of C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers, which explains why Indians partisans have been anxious to see him elevated to the majors. [ep
Considering the fact that trades have robbed the Tribe of an obvious candidate to play first in 2010, LaPorta might be the heir apparent to Ryan Garko and Victor Martinez, who moved to first when he wasn't catching. [ep
""Not necessarily,'' Wedge said. ""It depends on what we see at the end (of the season out of LaPorta). We can always go out and get somebody to play first. What we're looking for from Matt now is to relax and go out there and play.'' [ep
Left field is not a settled position for 2010, either, though Crowe might have a leg up on the job because of his recent good play. [ep
SURPRISE DL ADDITION -- On Tuesday, manager Eric Wedge seemed confident that the soreness in Trevor Crowe's right oblique would subside enough to allow him to play Wednesday night. [ep
But after undergoing an MRI scan Wednesday afternoon, Crowe was placed on the 15-day disabled list. [ep
""He looked good yesterday, but the MRI said something different,'' Wedge said. ""It's a pretty good strain. We'll look at him again after 15 days see if he is ready to go.'' [ep
However, the usual prognosis is two to four weeks. [ep
With Crowe out of the picture, the Tribe has no center fielder to back up Grady Sizemore. That job will go to Shin-Soo Choo or possibly Jamey Carroll. [ep
STRUGGLES CONTINUE -- Even the manager is surprised that Travis Hafner's (successful) shoulder surgery has affected his play this deep into the year. [ep
""I was thinking that the farther he got from surgery, he would be better,'' Wedge said. ""If you had asked me at the beginning of the season, I wouldn't have thought this would last this long.'' [ep
At times, Hafner's swing and plate discipline seem almost back to what they were before his injury. But lately he has struggled, collecting three hits in 17 at-bats coming into Wednesday night's action. [ep
""I don't think he'll be 100 percent until next year,'' Wedge said. ""Some days are better than others, but for him to find his swing -- you're not going to see that until next season.'' [ep
WHY NOT WAIT? -- Wedge said he was happy that Matt LaPorta was called up before rosters can be expanded to 40 on Sept. 1. What difference does two weeks make? [ep
""It's always different before September,'' the manager said. ""You might be playing more contending teams, and you get more of a real evaluation.'' [ep
LaPorta leaves Triple-A with a .299 average, 23 doubles, 17 home runs and 60 RBI in 338 at-bats. He ranks third in the International League in slugging (.530) and second in OPS (.917). [ep
FARM FACTS -- Hector Rondon struggled through five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks, as Columbus lost 8-7 to Toledo. Josh Barfield had two hits, including a homer. *elip Russell Young (5-5, 3.40 ERA) gave up three runs in six innings, as Kinston defeated Myrtle Beach 6-3. Lucas Montero had two hits and one RBI. [ep

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