Indians pleased with progress of LaPorta

Indians pleased with progress of LaPorta

Indians pleased with progress of LaPorta
CHICAGO -- Whether the numbers are good or bad, the Indians are not rushing to judgment only one month into a season.

Consider the current situation at first base. Veteran Casey Kotchman -- signed to assume Matt LaPorta's former big league role -- has labored out of the gates in his first tour with the Tribe. Meanwhile, LaPorta has put up incredibly strong numbers one month into the Minor League season with Triple-A Columbus.

"We're not contemplating any moves right now," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's only been one month. We have to give everybody up here a fair shot."

That said, Acta said the Indians have been very encouraged by LaPorta's early showing at Triple-A. Through 21 games with the Clippers, the 27-year-old LaPorta was hitting .380 with eight home runs, six doubles, 17 RBIs and 17 runs scored.

LaPorta's progress goes beyond the box score, though.

"It's not about the numbers," Acta said. "It's about the quality of the at-bats and what he's working on. They're encouraged by the fact that he's been using his legs better and laying off some off-speed stuff due to that. That's what we've looked at."

Last season, LaPorta hit .247 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs in 107 games for the Indians, who signed Kotchman to a one-year deal worth $3 million over the offseason. Entering Wednesday's game with the White Sox, Kotchman was batting just .149 with two homers and four RBIs in his first 17 games.

The Indians are not about to push the panic button when it comes to Kotchman. Part of the reason is that LaPorta has hit well against Minor League pitching plenty of times throughout his career. Overall, LaPorta has hit .305 with a .977 OPS in the Minors compared with .238 with a .701 OPS in parts of three seasons in the Majors.

"We've seen in the past some guys hit down there," Acta said. "It's up here that counts."