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LaPorta could soon see action at first

LaPorta could soon see action at first

CLEVELAND -- It might not come Sunday, when the Indians wrap up a nine-game homestand and a three-game series with the Royals at Progressive Field. But at some point between now and the end of the regular season, Matt LaPorta figures to get a start or two at first base.

"I'm impressed with him in the outfield, and he's working hard [during pregame] at first base," manager Eric Wedge said. "We still plan to get him there a couple times before the year is over."

Next year, first base could be LaPorta's domain. The emergence of Michael Brantley this September has the potential to crowd the corner outfield picture. With a healthy Grady Sizemore back in the lineup next season, the Indians might have Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo on the corners and LaPorta at first.

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LaPorta, though, was reportedly a little rough around the edges at first when he played there at Triple-A Columbus this season, which is why he's been putting in extra work with infield coach Luis Rivera since his Aug. 19 recall to the Majors.

"I'm still getting better over there," LaPorta said. "But I haven't played there in about a month, so I need to get a chance to play there in a game to see what kind of progress I've made."

As far as the 24-year-old LaPorta's progress at the plate is concerned, he enters Sunday's action in a bit of a funk, having hit .122 (5-for-41) with a homer and two RBIs over his last 11 games. He's batting .263 (21-for-80) with eight doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in 21 games since his most recent promotion.

"He has a good approach at home plate," Wedge said of LaPorta. "He's going to learn with each at-bat and each game. When you're talking about a young player, he's going to get exposed from time to time. But he competes up there. He has swings that play out and, other times, he has younger swings."

If LaPorta's swing plays out at the Major League level, he'll have a home in the Indians' lineup next year. The question is where in the field he'll be situated.

Pitching matchup
CLE: RHP Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 12.38 ERA)
Carrasco has made two starts at the Major League level, and the results have been uninspiring. He's allowed 11 runs on 17 hits with six walks, seven strikeouts and five homers in eight innings, earning a loss and a no-decision. Facing the Rangers on Tuesday, he allowed five runs on eight hits with three walks, four strikeouts and two homers in five innings. Until Carrasco, who was a key acquisition in the Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies, is able to get more consistent sinking action on his fastball, he'll continue to struggle at this level.

KC: RHP Kyle Davies (7-9, 5.54 ERA)
Davies picked up his third straight victory last Monday. He gave up just one run to the Angels but lasted only five innings because he not only gave up five hits, he walked a career-high six and used up 96 pitches. Davies has altered his pitching delivery and that's worked so well that against the Angels he was feeling almost too strong and throwing his fastball as hard as he could ever remember. The downside was that Davies couldn't always throw it over the plate. But in his last three outings, he's given up just four earned runs in 17 innings (2.12).

Tidbits
Joe Smith, recovering from a tweaked left knee, was on a mound Friday, but he didn't have a ball with him. He did what was called "dry work," getting accustomed to making his pitching motions off the mound. "I got a little bit sore," he said, "but that's to be expected." Smith expects to throw off a mound for the first time since Aug. 29 when the Indians get to Minnesota on Monday. He'll probably have to throw off a mound a couple of times before the Indians consider bringing him into a game. ... On Friday night, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Royals left fielder David DeJesus became the first outfielder in 17 years to throw out the potential winning run at home plate in the bottom of the ninth inning or later twice in one game. The last was the Cardinals' Bernard Gilkey at Houston on Aug. 25, 1992. ... Brantley's career-opening eight-game hitting streak came to a close Friday night. He was just the second Tribe player in the last 50 years to hit safely in the first eight games of his career (Josh Bard, who hit in nine straight in 2002, was the other), according to Elias. ... At the Cleveland Indians Charities Golf Outing last month, a fan by the name of Gary Taylor bought a package at the live auction that included four tickets and a limo ride with Slider to the game. Taylor generously donated the package back to the Indians, who offered it up to the Boys and Girls Club. The West family of Cleveland was awarded the package, and they were there Saturday night, taking in batting practice pregame and loving every minute of it.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• WKYC 3, STO-HD

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Monday: Indians (Jeremy Sowers, 6-9, 4.78) at Twins (Carl Pavano, 12-11, 4.92), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 3-10, 6.48) at Twins (Scott Baker, 13-8, 4.33), 8:10 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Indians (Aaron Laffey, 7-5, 3.79) at Twins (Nick Blackburn, 9-11, 4.39), 1:10 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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