Prior to the game Sunday, June 3, Cleveland Indians left fielder Johnny Damon went on paternity leave causing the Tribe to call up Matt LaPorta. This sparks the question: What does the future, short-term and long-term, hold for Matt LaPorta and Cleveland?
In the short-term the Cleveland Indians will need to decide whether Matt LaPorta fits into the team's equation once Damon returns Wednesday, June 6. LaPorta manned first base for the Indians throughout 2010 and 2011. When the Tribe signed veteran first baseman Casey Kotchman during the offseason, talk emerged about LaPorta competing for the vacant left fielder spot.
Personally, I found the idea LaPorta playing left farfetched, writing in one article, "While LaPorta used to play outfield, I'm sure his days there are done. He doesn't appear athletic enough to play outfield anymore."
To his credit, Matt LaPorta proved me wrong, splitting time between first and left so far in Class AAA ball. Since Johnny Damon's arrival to the Indians, Damon has received the most playing time out in left field. There appears no reason to think that might change once the veteran comes back from paternity leave.
Of course, with designated hitter Travis Hafner likely out until the All-Star break, Matt LaPorta could see at-bats as the DH if the Tribe decide to keep LaPorta in the big leagues. However, like I mention in my article, "Cleveland Indians Place Designated Hitter Travis Hafner on 15-Day DL: A Fan's Reaction," Tribe skipper Manny Acta already revealed plans to use multiple guys to fill the designated hitter role.
Basically, there seems little opportunity available for Matt LaPorta amongst the 2012 Cleveland Indians. 2013 and beyond looks brighter for LaPorta, though. Kotchman and Damon only hold one-year deals, making first base and left field question marks long-term.
Ultimately, Matt LaPorta's future as a Cleveland Indian best stands long-term. Once veterans Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon move on, increased opportunities will open up for LaPorta. Then again, the possibility always exists, using the funds currently allotted to Kotchman and Damon, the Tribe brass might try signing another experienced first baseman or left fielder.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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