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LaPorta feeling 'a million times better'


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The odds are stacked against first baseman Matt LaPorta in his quest to crack the Opening Day roster, but he is trying not to think about that aspect of this spring, and instead is focusing on the fact that he is feeling better than he did at any point last season.

"I feel a million times better," LaPorta said on Sunday.

In October, LaPorta underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left hip to clean up bone fragments -- the result of abnormal bone growth following a hip procedure in 2009. He said the hip was a consistent source of pain throughout the 2012 season, but he chose to fight through the discomfort in an effort to reach the big leagues again.

LaPorta, 28, spent the bulk of last season with Triple-A Columbus, hitting .264 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 101 games. In 22 games for the Indians, he hit .241 with one homer and five RBIs. Throughout the season, he was fighting pain in the hip.

"The doctor was like, 'I don't know how you functioned on an everyday level, let alone played baseball,''' LaPorta said. "He was pretty surprised at how I was able to deal with all of that. I just really tried to take last year a day at a time. I knew something wasn't right.

"There would be days where I'd wake up and tell my wife, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk today. I don't know how I'll be able to play.' Somehow I just managed to make it through and do OK. There were times I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoe, because it was so locked up in there."

LaPorta -- a non-roster invitee -- has resumed a light running program, but he has not advanced to running the bases. If everything goes according to plan, he might be ready for game action by mid-March. Under the circumstances, he seems like a long shot to earn a job as a part-time first baseman or DH.

Right now he is not worrying about his chances of making the team.

"Any chance I get to put a uniform on is an opportunity," he said. "I'm still here. I'm getting healthy. The main thing is getting healthy. I don't want to put the cart before the horse and be thinking this or that. None of that matters if I'm not healthy."

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