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Cleveland Indians

LaPorta time near?

By Sheldon Published: August 14, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS: What does a big-league team do when it comes time to call up featured minor leaguers and they've already arrived. [ep
   To some extent, that's the position the Indians are in. September is when rosters can be expanded to 40 and traditionally an organization's best Triple-A players (and maybe one or two in Double-A) are promoted for the last month of the season. [ep
   But in the case of the Tribe, many of Columbus' finest -- Trevor Crowe, Chris Gimenez, Andy Marte, Wyatt Toregas and Jess Todd -- already hold roster spots with the parent club. [ep
   Even so, there are other Triple-A players likely to be called up on Sept. 1. The most obvious candidate is left-fielder/first baseman Matt LaPorta, who played 13 games with the Indians earlier in the season. [ep
   The fans have been calling for his return and wonder why the team is taking so long to bring him to the big leagues. [ep
  ""People need to understand that this guy hssn't had s lot of minor-league time yet,'' manager Eric Wedge said Friday. ""This is valuable time for a player. It means more at-bats, it means more time at first base and in the outfield. The more time down there, the better prepared he will be when he does get up here.'' [ep
   Wedge won't say whether LaPorta will be called up in September, but it's almost certain that he will be. [ep
   ""Matt will be here sooner than later,'' Wedge said., ""But we have to do what's best for him.'' [ep
  After Ben Francisco was traded to Philadelphia as part of the Cliff Lee deal, there was a roster opening that went to Crowe instead of LaPorta. The reason: With Francisco gone, Crowe was the only viable backup for Grady Sizemore in center. [ep
   Moreover, because Marte had an excellent season at Columbus, Tribe officials felt they had to give him one more look before he ran out of options at the end of the season. The only place to play Marte was first base, where LaPorta seems to be headed. [ep
   Asked if LaPorta was ready to stick on a big-league roster the first time he was summoned from Triple-A, Wedge said, ""At some point in time I think he would have had to go back down. Almost everybody does.'' [ep
   Where does LaPorta need the most work? [ep
   ""It's not really one area over another,'' Wedge said. ""Experience is important. He needs more at-bats. He handled himself well in the outfield in spring training, but it's the offensive side that's the toughest to master.'' [ep
   Wedge and General Manager Mark Shapiro have only begun talking about September callups. [ep
   ""We don't want to call someone up just to call him up,'' the manager said. ""We're scheduled to talk about it more seriously next week.'' [ep
    A QUESTION OF TIMING -- Jhonny Peralta was asked to play third base in winter ball, but when spring training arrived, he was back at his normal position, shortstop. [ep
   Only before mid-season did the Indians switch Peralta to third, moving Asdrubal Cabrera from second to short and installing Luis Valbuena at second. [ep
   ""Jhonny had been there (short) for a long time and Asdrubal was outstanding at second,'' manager Eric Wedge said, explaining the timing. ""Also, Valbuena needed a little more time in the minors.'' [ep
   Wedge insists that there was no grand design to move Peralta to third. [ep
  ""There was nothing predetermined,'' he said. ""We just knew it was a possibility,'' [ep
  What finally triggered the change?  [ep
   ""We felt that Valbuena was going to stick up here,'' Wedge said. ""And we felt the moves would make us stronger up the middle with Cabrera and Valbuena. We thought if we could commit to Jhonny at third and get rid of the uncertainty, he'd be able to help us there.'' [ep
   SHHH, OSMOSIS AT WORK -- Chris Gimenez was in the lineup Friday night, but he sits on the bench as much as he plays in his role as super utility player. [ep
   But does watching others play help him learn? [ep
   ""If you're getting something out of each day, and you should, you have a chance to stay here,'' Wedge said. ""If you're not, you should be somewhere else.'' [ep
   FARM FACTS -- Hector Rondon (4-2, 2.38 ERA) gave up one earned run (four total) and seven hits in 62/3 innings, as Columbus defeated Indianapolis 7-6. Jason Donald had three hits. *elip Tim Fedroff had a tirple, single and two RBI, and Doug Pickens hit a three-run homer in Kinston's 10-8 win voer Lynchburg. *elip  T.J. McFarland (7-4, 3.75 ERA) threw six scoreless innings, giving up three hits, as Lake County blanked Augusta 3-0. *elip Brett Brach pitched 51/3 shutout innings, but Mahoning Valley lost 2-1 to  Brooklyn. [ep

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