Matt LaPorta out 4-6 months following hip surgery

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Things apparently aren’t going to be easy for Matt LaPorta in Cleveland.
Despite being one of the best hitting prospects in baseball and more or less MLB-ready at the age of 24, LaPorta began this season at Triple-A, played sparingly after being called up to Cleveland for the first time in May, and was sent back to the minors three weeks later when it became clear that manager Eric Wedge inexplicably had no use for him.
He remained in the minors until the Indians were completely out of contention, finally getting another shot in mid-August after batting his usual .299/.388/.530 with 42 extra-base hits in 93 games at Triple-A. The second time around Wedge at least gave him everyday playing time down the stretch and LaPorta batted .273 with six homers and 12 doubles in 139 at-bats.
Wedge was then fired as manager, making it all but certain that LaPorta would enter 2010 as a starter at either first base or an outfield corner. Except now he’s facing 4-6 months of recovery and rehabilitation after undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery this morning and is no sure thing to be fully healthy by Opening Day, let alone the start of spring training.
If healthy there’s little doubt that LaPorta will be an impact hitter for the Indians, who acquired him from the Brewers as the centerpiece of the last year’s CC Sabathia trade. He’s hit .254/.308/.442 through 198 plate appearances in the majors after batting .291/.384/.557 in the minors, and the former first-round pick offers 30-homer power with strong plate discipline and a reasonable strikeout rate.
The good news is that he was probably destined to end up at first base long term anyway, so a slight decrease in speed or mobility following the surgery perhaps wouldn’t hurt him as much as some players. However, for a top prospect who’s been given something less than a clear path already and an Indians team in need of young players to step up in 2010, LaPorta going under the knife is a tough and unexpected break.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.