LaPorta may be in mix for outfield vacancy

LaPorta may be in mix for outfield vacancy

LaPorta may be in mix for outfield vacancy
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Matt LaPorta lost his job as the starting first baseman for the Indians, but manager Manny Acta is not ready to rule out considering him for the lone vacancy in the outfield.

"Who knows?" Acta said on Saturday. "We've got the whole Spring Training to find out."

Two outfield spots are reserved for Michael Brantley, who can play left or center field, and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. With Grady Sizemore out with a lower back injury for an unknown period of time, Cleveland is on the hunt for a third fit.

LaPorta, who was the Tribe's regular first baseman for the past two years, has limited experience as an outfielder in the Major Leagues. Acta recently noted that LaPorta could compete for a bench job, but only now revealed that the starting outfield opening was also a possibility.

That said, there is a long list of others in the mix.

"Everybody in camp who plays in the outfield could be my starting left fielder," Acta said. "It's pretty clear, the first day into camp, we're not going to be telling people that they don't have a shot here."

Last season, the 27-year-old LaPorta hit .247 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs in 107 games for the Indians, who signed free-agent Casey Kotchman to a one-year contract over the winter to be the new starting first baseman. LaPorta has not manned the outfield since 2010, but he has 46 big league games as an outfielder under his belt.

Other outfielders on the 40-man roster include Ezequiel Carrera, Aaron Cunningham, Shelley Duncan and Thomas Neal. Outfielders in camp as non-roster invitees include Ryan Spilborghs, Felix Pie, Chad Huffman, Fred Lewis and Trevor Crowe. Two more players who will get reps in the outfield this spring are Russ Canzler and Jason Donald.

"We made it clear to everybody here that we're not just going to be looking at batting averages," Acta said of how the Indians will evaluate the competition. "For anybody to win jobs, it's going to have to be defense, baserunning and the quality of the at-bats."