CLEVELAND -- Matt LaPorta is back in the big leagues. LaPorta's promotion from Triple-A Columbus was a move Indians fans had been clamoring for, particularly in the wake of the club's July trading spree. The move was made Wednesday, albeit at the expense of outfielder Trevor Crowe, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right internal oblique strain that will cost him two to four weeks of his rookie season. But while Crowe was the club's No. 1 Draft pick in 2005, it's LaPorta that piques fans' interest. He was, after all, the club's much-hyped, prized acquisition in the 2008 trade that sent ace CC Sabathia to the Brewers.
LaPorta's first exposure to the Majors back in May was a brief one. He appeared in just 13 games and batted just .190 (8-for-42). This time around, LaPorta, who was set to arrive at Progressive Field just before Wednesday's game against the Angels, is expected to get consistent action in the outfield corners and at first base. "I'm not sure how the distribution [between the positions] is going to be," manager Eric Wedge said. "But he will play regularly." LaPorta had been getting regular time at first in the wake of his late May demotion to Columbus. The Indians felt it was important that he become more accustomed to the position, as it has a chance to be a home for him in his big league future. For now, that positional future isn't set in stone. "It depends on what we see up here and what we do this winter [with regard to club construction]," Wedge said. "With Matt, we have to work off what we see defensively." LaPorta's defense at first in the Minors was reportedly shaky at times. "Anybody that goes over there goes through that," Wedge said. "It's a very underrated position. A lot goes on out there, and you need to know where you need to be." LaPorta's bat will ultimately be what carries him at this level. He was batting .299 with 17 homers, 23 doubles, two triples, 60 RBIs and a .917 OPS in 93 games with the Clippers. But while fans have wanted to see LaPorta at the Major League level for quite some time, the Indians are quick to issue reminders that the 24-year-old is only two years removed from being selected by the Brewers as the seventh overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. "People need to remember he has not had that many professional at-bats," Wedge said. "It's been kind of a whirlwind for him." One other reason the Indians hadn't promoted LaPorta sooner is Grady Sizemore's cranky right elbow, which has been bothering him all season. Crowe had the ability to fill in for Sizemore in center field, whereas LaPorta does not. With Crowe gone, Shin-Soo Choo could start to see some time in center, as he's been taking reps at the position in batting practice for a couple weeks. Still, Wedge said the Indians actually intended to get LaPorta up here before September callups, regardless of the Crowe injury. "At-bats before September are always a little different than in September," Wedge said. Crowe won't be back until September. Though he took four rounds of batting practice from the left-hand side Tuesday and felt better, the MRI exam revealed the strain that had been bothering him for about a week was more serious than the Indians had initially thought. "It was one of those things that just got worse over time," Crowe said. Crowe was added to the Major League roster for the third time this season on July 31, and he's shown improvement over two previous stints. For the season, he is batting .208 (22-for-106) with six doubles, a triple, no homers and 10 RBIs at the Major League level.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.