CINCINNATI -- The last time Indians general manager Mark Shapiro sent a veteran first baseman to the Mariners was in 2006. He did it twice, in fact, sending both ends of the ill-fated "Benuardo" platoon of Ben Broussard and Eduardo Perez to Seattle in separate deals.Not much was made of the prospects brought back. Shapiro himself would be the first to admit the performance of right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, both of whom have become core players, has been a pleasant surprise. So for now, it's difficult for even Shapiro to know the full extent of what Saturday's Russell Branyan trade netted the Tribe. The immediate positive is the room it cleared for Matt LaPorta to get everyday at-bats. But Shapiro doesn't discount the acquisitions he made in Triple-A center fielder Ezequiel Carrera and high Class A shortstop Juan Diaz. Carrera, billed as a speedy slap hitter and polished defender, will initially head to the Tribe's Arizona facility to complete his rehab from a hip pointer injury. He's expected to report to Columbus in seven to 10 days. "Every scouting report [on Carrera] says he has above-average defense and above-average speed," Shapiro said. "He's a slap, contact hitter with a high on-base percentage." Carrera, 23, was batting .268 with a .654 OPS, nine steals, six doubles, two triples and 18 RBIs in 64 games for Triple-A Tacoma before going on the DL. Last year, he won the Southern League batting title with a .337 mark and was also first in on-base percentage with a .441 mark while at West Tennessee. The 21-year-old Diaz, who was batting .295 with a .779 OPS, seven homers and 41 RBIs at High Desert, is a switch-hitter who the Indians aren't judging by his numbers. Shapiro called him more of a "projection" player, meaning the Indians see upside in his skill set. "Diaz addresses an area we consistently look to address [in the middle infield]," Shapiro said. "He has a tall, rangy body we feel he needs to grow into. Over time, he can project. He's only 21 and can be an interesting middle-infield alternative."
Indians recall LaPorta to man first base
CINCINNATI -- The most important acquisition the Indians made in Saturday night's Russell Branyan trade was not Ezequiel Carrera or Juan Diaz. It was Matt LaPorta.Branyan's exit cleared the way for LaPorta's return, and now the Indians are finally ready to get a true, extended look at what the prized prospect brought in by the 2008 CC Sabathia trade can do at this level. LaPorta was here in two spurts in '09 and at the outset of 2010, of course. But this is the first time the Indians are not only going to give him an everyday spot in the lineup for an extended period, but also the first time they won't be bouncing him back and forth between first base and left. First base is LaPorta's domain now, and the 25-year-old slugger, who started in the No. 6 spot Sunday, hopes to make the most of the opportunity. He seems primed to do so after batting .362 with a 1.094 OPS, five homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games at Triple-A Columbus. "It definitely helps when you go down and perform," LaPorta said. "It helped to go down and get everyday at-bats there." With Branyan playing regularly at first and Austin Kearns locked down in left field, those at-bats didn't exist for LaPorta in the first two months of the season. The Indians were simultaneously trying to compete with two guys in the lineup who won't be there next year while developing young players like LaPorta. The results were messy. The Branyan trade follows the expectation that the second half will be skewed directly toward development. And LaPorta is a big part of the Indians' future. He said he didn't make any changes to his swing in Columbus and attributed his success to the "law of averages" finally working in his favor. He's not limited from a physical standpoint after having left big toe and left hip surgeries last October. He's here to play, and he's here to prove his value as the key acquisition in the most high profile of the Indians' recent high-profile trades.
Donald misses second straight game
CINCINNATI -- Jayson Nix and Anderson Hernandez were expected to platoon at second base after Nix was plucked off waivers late last week. But a Jason Donald injury has allowed both Nix and Hernandez to start in the middle infield the past two games.Donald jammed his left wrist while diving to field a grounder in Friday's loss to the Reds. He finished the game but has been out of the lineup since. "I didn't even realize it hurt [at first]," Donald said. "I got back to the dugout and felt it and thought, 'When did I do that?' I woke up [Saturday] and couldn't swing a bat. It was really stiff." Donald didn't even attempt to take swings Sunday. "We're leaving it alone for the day," he said. With Donald out, Hernandez once again started at short, with Nix at second. The rookie Donald is batting .254 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 35 games.
Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said the injury doesn't appear serious and Donald should be back Monday against the Blue Jays.
The Indians entered Sunday's game with a 1-7 record on a National League-only road trip through Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Manager Manny Acta didn't think the record had anything to do with the NL style of play. "Regardless of where you're playing, baseball is baseball," he said. "You have to execute." ... The Indians have at least one extra-base hit in each of their past 22 games, dating back to the near-perfect game tossed by Armando Galarraga on June 2. ... Already this year, the Tribe has used 20 position players and 15 pitchers. ... For more on the Tribe, visit the CastroTurf blog.