LaRoche quietly having a good spring

LaRoche quietly having a good spring

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Andy LaRoche often makes his way through Cleveland's clubhouse wearing a camouflage shirt before changing into his Indians jersey. Fittingly, the infielder has pieced together a solid spring, a showing that has gone virtually unnoticed to this point.

"He's been good, man," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He's been taking advantage of his opportunity."

The opportunity in question is a chance to work his way into the Opening Day mix as a utility infielder off the Tribe's bench. LaRoche has big league experience, hits right-handed and can handle multiple infield positions. That fits the description of the kind of player Cleveland wants in reserve this season.

Much of the spring attention has focused on Jason Donald and Jose Lopez, who appear to be leading the charge for two of the three available bench spots. Donald appears to be a shoo-in for a roster spot, but Lopez and LaRoche -- both in camp as non-roster invitees -- have turned in similarly strong performances this spring.

"A lot has been made of the two guys that are competing there," Acta said of Donald and Lopez. "But [LaRoche] is getting his opportunity to play and every time he goes out there he gets it done. He's done a nice job for us."

Entering Sunday, the 28-year-old LaRoche -- capable of manning first, second and third base -- has hit .389 (7-for-18) with two doubles and four RBIs through 11 Cactus League games. Lopez, who plays the same positions and also hits from the right side, has posted a .394 (13-for-33) average with two homers, three doubles and seven RBIs through 15 games.

LaRoche, who was signed to a Minor League contract in December, hit .247 in 40 games with Oakland last season.

"There's a lot of things I need to work on," LaRoche said. "I've been playing quite a bit, but it seems like I haven't been getting a lot of action [in the field]. So it's just getting comfortable seeing the ball off the bat and getting better reads on the ball.

"And then, obviously, at the plate there's a lot I've got to work on with my approach, and seeing it better, and just trying to put together better at-bats.'

During Saturday's game against the Dodgers, LaRoche exited in the sixth inning after being struck in the side of the head by infielder Mark Ellis's knee while attempting to break up a double play. LaRoche was feeling much better on Sunday.

"Right in my jaw -- underneath my ear," LaRoche said. "I was just trying to break it up, and I ended up trying to break it up with my face. I'm all right, though. No concussion or anything.