Saturday, March 20, 2010

Matt LaPorta Tentative for Indians

Indians rookie Matt LaPorta, coming off surgeries to his toe and hip, says he feels 100-percent healthy, but cannot be sure until he plays in unrestrained, everyday game action.

LaPorta, 25, a 7th overall pick in the 2007 draft, has been limited to playing every other day at the midpoint of Cactus League action; but he has five hits in his first 12 at-bats and has been projected by the team to be fully ready to play when the new season opens.

LaPorta told Sirius/XM Radio's Grant Paulsen that he has been taking reps not only in left field, his newly designated prime position, but also at his former position, first base.

As to which of the two will be his prime position by the end of the year, LaPorta was uncertain.

"To be honest with you, I don't know how to answer that right now," LaPorta told Paulsen.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound North Dakota native indicated his time at first base has been beneficial for his recovery because the infield is less demanding than the outfield. However, the primary reason he is spending so much time at first base is because Russell Branyan has an ailing back. He didn't mention it, but veteran Travis Hafner has had shoulder trouble in recent years, and will likely take time off as designated hitter, another position at which LaPorta can fill in.

He said he had no objection to be moved around.

"It keeps things new ... and it's a great opportunity for me and the ball club."