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LaPorta awestruck by Fenway Park

LaPorta awestruck by Fenway

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BOSTON -- Growing up a Cubs fan in Florida, Tribe rookie Matt LaPorta was familiar with Wrigley Field's fabled ivy-covered walls. But, it wasn't until he played in the Cape Cod League in 2004 and '06 that he got a look at Fenway Park's Green Monster.

"I didn't know the strong tradition with the Red Sox until I played on the Cape in '04," said LaPorta, before the start of the Indians' two-game set at Fenway. "We came out here and watched a game, and then again in '06. I was like, 'Wow.' That was amazing. 'Sweet Caroline,' I fell in love with this place. It's a great baseball atmosphere. It's truly a privilege to play for a visiting club here, or play for the Red Sox, I'm sure.

Boston drafted LaPorta in the 14th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Florida, and he had a workout at Fenway. But he's still waiting for his first appearance in a game. He did not get into Wednesday night's game, a 9-2 win for the Indians.

"It's truly a blessing, after playing in the Cape and coming over here, I really fell in love with Fenway Park," LaPorta said. "It's a great stadium. The atmosphere here is amazing. Things are great here. I just hope one day that I have the opportunity to play here."

LaPorta did not sign with the Red Sox in 2006 -- or with the Cubs, who drafted him in the 14th round in '03 -- opting to go back to school. The next year, the Brewers drafted him in the first round.

Was he ever close to signing with the Red Sox?

"Yes and no," LaPorta said. "There were a few things that I wanted and the Red Sox didn't think was right at the time and vice versa. But I'm just privileged they gave me an opportunity to be a part of the Red Sox. At the time, it just wasn't the right decision for me and I just went back for my senior year."

For LaPorta, who made his Major League debut May 3 and hit a home run for his first big league hit the next day, the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. But, he has not dwelt upon things that might have been.

"No, I knew this was part of God's plan, because I put my trust and faith in Him," LaPorta said. "And for Him to guide my decisions in life, and this is where I think he'd want me to be."

Still, LaPorta acknowledges it can be a little humbling thinking that three years ago, he was one of many sitting in the stands.

"Instead of me watching the big leaguers, people are watching us out there," he said. "That's kind of hard to believe. Just because three years ago I was out on the field [for a workout] and in the stands watching guys in the big league, and now I'm here. So, it's truly amazing."

Pitching matchup
CLE: LHP Jeremy Sowers (4-9, 5.58 ERA in 2008)
The Indians will call up Sowers to make his first start of the season against the Red Sox after moving Aaron Laffey into the bullpen to shore up the shaky relief corps. In four starts with Triple-A Columbus, Sowers is 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA, with 22 strikeouts against five walks. In his last start, April 28 at Toledo, he pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. In three career games against the Red Sox, he is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA.

BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (3-1, 2.91 ERA)
While his last start was far from his best, Wakefield still got the win, going five innings and giving up seven hits and five runs against the Rays. Overall, the knuckleballer has been Boston's best starter this season, turning in four quality starts in five outings. This will be Wakefield's second start of the season at Fenway. On April 22, he gave up five hits and a run over seven innings in a victory over the Twins. Wakefield hopes to duplicate the success against the Indians that he had in Cleveland on April 27, when he allowed one hit and no runs over seven innings.

Tidbits
The nine runs the Indians scored Wednesday were the team's most in a game at Fenway since a 12-8 win June 28, 2005. ... Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to 15 games, during which he is batting .433 (26-for-60) with two home runs, six doubles, a triple, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored and eight walks. ... Asdrubal Cabrera has an eight-game hit streak, going 14-for-39 (.359) with five RBIs and seven runs scored.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• STO-HD

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Friday: Indians (Cliff Lee, 1-4, 3.92) vs. Tigers (Justin Verlander, 2-2, 5.66), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 1-3, 6.11) vs. Tigers (Edwin Jackson, 1-2, 3.08), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Indians (Anthony Reyes, 1-0, 6.84) vs. Tigers (Rick Porcello, 2-3, 4.71), 1:05 p.m. ET

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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