ARLINGTON -- The Indians' outfield is undoubtedly thinner, now that Shin-Soo Choo has joined Grady Sizemore on the disabled list. But that doesn't mean the plans for Matt LaPorta will change any.Manager Manny Acta said he still views LaPorta, who used to split his time between left field and first base, as the everyday option at first. "That's why he's here and where we envision him down the road," Acta said. "That's not to say we won't see him out there [in the outfield] once in a while. But he's here to play first." LaPorta played quite a bit in left field in the few weeks he spent at Triple-A Columbus in June. But the Russell Branyan trade opened first base up for him. "We finally got an opportunity to play this kid at one position," Acta said, "and we want to take advantage of it."
Adjustments in Triple-A help Brantley
ARLINGTON -- Two issues on the Michael Brantley scouting report at Triple-A Columbus concerned the Indians. Brantley, optioned down to the Clippers in mid-April, wasn't stealing many bases, and he wasn't hitting for power.Brantley, however, addressed both of those issues in the couple of weeks that preceded his promotion back to the bigs on Sunday, when he joined the active roster in the wake of an injury to Shin-Soo Choo. In his last 10 games with Columbus, he had four doubles and a homer, as well as four steals in five attempts. On the basepaths, Brantley said he discovered that Triple-A teams adjusted to his speed (he had stolen 46 bases in Triple-A in 2009), and he had to make the adjustment back. "Every time I got on, they would make a pickoff attempt two or three times and slide-step," Brantley said. "They threw a lot of fastballs away in offspeed counts. It really made me pay more attention. I had to get better jumps." In the power department, Brantley said he made two changes to his swing. "I got my front foot down faster," he said. "That helped me see the ball coming and get a better swing through the ball. I also kept my hands away from my body. That gave me more power up top." Brantley, 23, should have plenty of opportunity to see if these adjustments will carry over into the big leagues. Manager Manny Acta plans to use him as the regular in center field and at the top of the order.
Tribe tracking progress of Carrasco, Huff
ARLINGTON -- The next time the Indians make a move in their rotation, they'll have two primary options to consider at Triple-A Columbus -- right-hander Carlos Carrasco and left-hander David Huff.Manager Manny Acta said there is no "pecking order" involving the two, though he has made it clear that the Indians intend to get Carrasco a meaningful rotation opportunity this season. The Tribe already extended such an opportunity to Huff, and it didn't pan out. "Carrasco is going to get his shot, no matter what," Acta said. Carrasco entered his start against Toledo on Monday with a 7-3 record and 4.22 ERA in 15 starts. He had struck out 79 and walked 34 in 91 2/3 innings. Huff, who beat out Carrasco for a rotation spot the last week of Spring Training, has made three starts for Columbus since his demotion last month, and he's been impressive. He is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA, striking out 14 and walking five in 18 2/3 innings. The Indians, seemingly getting younger by the day, could have a rotation vacancy if they find a trade partner for Jake Westbrook.
The Indians had no further word on the timetable for Shin-Soo Choo's return from a right thumb sprain and whether the injury will require surgery. Choo will see hand specialist Dr. Tom Graham in Cleveland on Tuesday, and an update will be provided either Tuesday or Wednesday, at the latest. For now, Choo is expected to miss six to eight weeks. ... The Indians reached the season's halfway point Sunday. After 81 games, they have the exact same record this year as they did at this point last year -- 32-49. The team is scoring less runs (4.09 runs per game vs. 5.19 in '09) but allowing less (4.59 ERA vs. 5.37 in '09). ... The Tribe's six rookies are the third-most among American League teams, trailing the Tigers and Orioles, who each have seven. ... Double-A Akron outfielder Matt McBride was named the Eastern League player of the week after batting .370 with two doubles, six homers and nine RBIs in seven games.