Onus on LaPorta to join lineup's thumpers

Onus on LaPorta to join lineup's thumpers

Onus on LaPorta to join lineup's thumpers
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt LaPorta hopes to someday have a home in the heart of the Indians' lineup. The first baseman knows it will take patience and plenty of power for him to eventually earn that assignment.

When Opening Day arrives on Friday in Cleveland, LaPorta will be in the lower third of the local nine's batting order, in all likelihood occupying either the seventh or eighth spot. He is not sweating where he falls in the lineup, though. LaPorta knows it is up to him to convince the club to move him up in the offense's pecking order.

"For right now, it doesn't really matter," LaPorta said on Saturday afternoon. "I need to go out there and do whatever I can to help the ballclub win. But eventually, obviously it would be nice to hit in the meat of the order. Right now, wherever they need me, that's where I'll play."

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LaPorta is not the only one hoping he can develop into that right-handed thumper wreaking havoc within the lineup's power district. Indians manager Manny Acta also wants to see the first baseman make a strong case for being moved up in the order.

"I hope that everybody can do that, especially him," Acta said. "He's got the power from the right side. I'm just trying to put people in situations where they can have success and also allowing them to earn it, too.

"I don't make lineups based on projections. That's not what we're all about. It's not where you project to hit. It's where we think you are right now."

Right now, the 26-year-old LaPorta has hit .163 (8-for-49) with two home runs and 10 RBIs through 17 Cactus League game. It has been a slow start for LaPorta, who labored through a slow finish last season. From Aug. 10 through the end of the year, he hit just .147 for the Tribe.

Results aside, Acta said he has seen progress from LaPorta at the plate.

"Numbers don't say the whole story," Acta said. "He does have a lot of RBIs compared to the other guys. We're just looking for consistency. We're going to throw [the spring numbers] out and start seeing results on April 1 and really judge on that."