Matt LaPorta was the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft and the centerpiece of the trade package the Indians received for CC Sabathia in 2008, but his stock has dropped so much since then that he went unclaimed on waivers in November.
That was partly due to LaPorta simply not producing in the majors, but also because October hip surgery made him a big question mark for 2013. So he stayed with the Indians and now Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that at least the hip is no longer a huge problem for LaPorta:
He no longer wakes in the morning and wonders if he’ll be able to walk, much less play baseball. He can sleep through the night and bend over and tie his shoes if needed. The hip hurt LaPorta all last season, but he didn’t have surgery until Oct. 18. …
October’s surgery was the second LaPorta has had on his left hip in the past three years. The first was for a torn labrum. The second removed bone fragments from the joint. “What happened was after the first surgery was that my bone, as a reaction to them going in there, grew more bone,” said LaPorta. “It’s rare, but it happens. It was like have a square peg in a round hole. It was rubbing and some pieces were breaking off. They got stuck in there and I couldn’t move my leg as freely as I would have liked.”
“My bone grew more bone” seems like it should be the leader in the clubhouse for quote of 2013. Also: Gross.
Over the weekend the Indians signed Jason Giambi to further block LaPorta’s path to regular playing time and at age 28 he’s no longer even on the 40-man roster, so he’s running out of time to carve out a big-league career.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.