When the Indians acquired Matt LaPorta for CC Sabathia midway through 2008, the hope was that the first baseman would emerge as a power threat.
It's taken about two years, but LaPorta may finally be delivering. The University of Florida graduate debuted for Cleveland last year, bashing seven home runs but hitting just .254 in 198 plate appearances with a scant 12 walks. He began 2010 on the big-league roster but was sent down to Triple-A after hitting .218/.290/.277.
Once Russell Branyan was sent out to Seattle, however, the Indians brought LaPorta back and installed him as the full-time first baseman. That's done wonders for his production and he's proving his first-round pedigree by cranking three home runs and hitting .294/.368/.882 in 17 at-bats. Yes, small sample size, but encouraging nonetheless.
"It definitely helps knowing that you're going to play pretty much every day," LaPorta told MLB.com. "It makes those 0-for-4 games a little less hard to take, because you know you're going to come out the next day and have a chance to get your knocks."
LaPorta has struggled to get regular playing time in the past but is finally coming into his own as the Indians rebuild. His recent success has made him confident, but he cautions in getting overconfident.
"If you get too high, then you can start getting too low," he notes. "I think you always want to stay on that even-keel. I feel like I've always been able to hit. It was just a matter of time before I was going to do it."
-- Evan Brunell
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