CLEVELAND -- The Indians want Matt LaPorta to receive consistent at-bats. On Monday, they optioned the first baseman/left fielder to Triple-A Columbus for precisely that purpose.
With the Indians activating infielder Andy Marte from the disabled list before their series opener against the Red Sox at Progressive Field, the roster casualty was the 25-year-old LaPorta.
"We just don't think there are enough at-bats for him," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The way that [Austin] Kearns has swung the bat, and the way that we arranged for Russell [Branyan] to play about five games a week, it's not fair to the kid. We feel like he should be down there playing every day until we can find enough at-bats for him."
A touted acquisition in the 2008 trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, LaPorta has batted .218 (26-for-119) with one home run and seven RBIs in 35 games for the Tribe this season.
"We did give him an opportunity at the beginning, and he was getting some at-bats," Acta said. "It's just not fair to him. Whether you're developing or not, you still want to put the best team out there on the field. He needs to go down there, get at-bats, improve and then, later on, if anything happens up here, he can come up and play every day. Right now, with Kearns hitting third, Branyan being one of our threats and Travis [Hafner] being our DH, at-bats are not there for him."
With the Clippers, LaPorta will split time defensively between first base and left field, though Acta views the young slugger as a future first baseman.
"Looking down the road here, with Michael Brantley probably joining this ballclub at some point, we'll probably look at him as a first baseman," said Acta. "That's where we'll probably have a spot for him."