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LaPorta slated to see increased action

LaPorta slated to see increased action

CLEVELAND -- The Indians were getting ready to stretch before Tuesday's game against the White Sox when Matt LaPorta came sprinting out of the clubhouse and up the stairs of the dugout.

He wasn't late for stretching, but he was close.

"No matter how early I get here [to the ballpark]," LaPorta said with a smile, "it seems I'm always rushing around."

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Life in the big leagues has moved quickly for LaPorta, and things only figure to get faster in the coming weeks.

The Indians didn't call LaPorta up from Triple-A Columbus to have him sit.

Well, not for a long time, anyway.

After four straight days of a LaPorta-less lineup, frustrated fans eager to see the Tribe's top prospect get a legitimate chance to impact the lineup got their wish Tuesday. He was also back to his old position from his University of Florida days, getting the start at first base.

Manager Eric Wedge and general manager Mark Shapiro have both made it clear that it is the Indians' intention to give LaPorta an increasingly regular presence in the lineup, so you can probably count on him to be in action Wednesday, when the Indians wrap up their three-game series against Mark Buehrle and the White Sox with a businessman's special at Progressive Field.

"He's a guy that, as you watch the next week or two, you're going to see play more and more," Shapiro said. "He wouldn't be up here if we didn't expect to play him more and more and help us score runs more consistently."

With David Dellucci and Ben Francisco not performing up to expectations and Travis Hafner still on the disabled list, LaPorta has a chance to steal some at-bats in left field and at designated hitter. Ryan Garko's ability to move between first base, DH and the corner-outfield spots also helps.

LaPorta is just less than two years removed from being taken by the Brewers as the seventh overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft, and he's less than a year removed from the culture shock that came with the blockbuster CC Sabathia trade that brought him to this organization.

The Indians want to temper expectations for the 24-year-old LaPorta, who is batting just .188 (3-for-16) with a homer so far.

"The expectations for a guy with that little time in professional baseball are unfair," Shapiro said. "Over time, we think he can be a run-production bat. Initially, he's going to have some ups-and-downs."

In addition to transitioning to the big leagues, LaPorta is also getting reaccustomed to first base -- a position he hasn't played with regularity since he was with the Gators. He only played one game at first while with Columbus.

During his four-day absence from the lineup, LaPorta did pregame work at first. He made one gaffe in the seventh inning Tuesday, however, when he didn't field his position properly on a would-be groundout to second that instead resulted in an error when LaPorta couldn't find the bag on the throw.

Where does LaPorta's positional future lie? Who knows?

"I think I've become a pretty good outfielder," LaPorta said. "Whether it's there or first base really doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm in the lineup and helping my team win."

And by the sound of things, he'll be in there more often in the coming days.

Pitching matchup
CLE: LHP Cliff Lee (1-5, 3.45 ERA)
Tough-luck losses are becoming routine for Lee, who has gotten little-to-no run support over the past month. Lee gave the Indians another eight stellar innings Friday night against the Tigers, giving up just one run on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. But the Indians didn't give him any run support, and he took the loss for the third time in four starts. That's two runs of support total for Lee over four starts. He is 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA lifetime against the White Sox, including a 2-0 mark and 0.53 ERA in two starts last year.

CWS: LHP Mark Buehrle (5-0, 2.61 ERA)
Buehrle started a season at 5-0 for the first time in his illustrious career following Thursday's 6-0 whitewash of the Tigers. But that wasn't the main story coming from the victory. Buehrle was perfect through 6 1/3 innings, retiring the first 19 hitters he faced before Placido Polanco lined a double to left. Buehrle finished off eight innings with 110 pitches, allowing just the one hit while striking out five and walking two. The southpaw once again will be pitching with an extra day of rest, as the White Sox flip-flopped Buehrle and Clayton Richard in the rotation against the Indians. Buehrle has a 9-12 record against Cleveland, the only sub-.500 ledger against the American League Central for Buehrle, along with a 4.82 ERA. He is 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA at Progressive Field.

Tidbits
Since his demotion to Columbus, left-handed reliever Rafael Perez has worked three scoreless innings, during which he's walked three, struck out three and given up four hits. ... The Indians moved right-handed prospect Hector Rondon from the Double-A Akron rotation, where he was 5-0 with a 1.23 ERA, to the bullpen. His first exposure to relief work didn't go as planned. Rondon gave up two runs in two innings of relief Tuesday night. ... Also in the Minors, first baseman Matt McBride has been promoted from Class A Kinston to Akron. McBride, a converted catcher, was batting .405 with 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in 31 games for the K-Tribe. ... Indians legend Bob Feller will be autographing copies of his book, "Bob Feller's Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom," outside Section 156 during Wednesday's game.

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
• Thursday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 1-4, 5.57) at Rays (James Shields, 3-3, 4.02), 7:08 p.m. ET
• Friday: Indians (Anthony Reyes, 1-1, 7.20) at Rays (Scott Kazmir, 4-3, 5.92), 7:38 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Indians (Carl Pavano, 3-3, 6.45) at Rays (Matt Garza, 3-2, 3.56), 4:10 p.m. ET

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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