CHICAGO -- Matt LaPorta had little to complain about on Friday afternoon. The first baseman was called back to the big leagues and, more importantly, he is a proud new father to a healthy baby girl.
Both developments have helped erase the sting of his demotion to Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30 in the midst of a disappointing season in the batter's box. Expectations were high for LaPorta this year, but the first baseman insists that no one set the bar higher than he did for himself.
"For me personally, it's been kind of frustrating," LaPorta said of his season to date. "I haven't accomplished what I want to accomplish, but this is a team sport and a team game. It's not about me. What we've done as a team, we've done some great things this year."
Now, the Indians need to begin thinking ahead to next year.
Sitting inside the visitors' dugout at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday afternoon, Indians manager Manny Acta admitted that the team needs to examine its options at first base. LaPorta has yet to develop into the right-handed power threat that the Tribe envisioned, and the team gave him every opportunity to shine this season.
Entering Friday, LaPorta was hitting .238 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs in 97 games.
"I think that's something that we're going to have to address during the offseason," Acta said, "whether we're going to continue to go with what we have or if we're going to explore something else. Right now, first base and third base are positions where we should be looking into improving for next year, whether that's within or from the outside.
"Those are positions that you expect some production out of it. You can get away with one of those positions being a defensive one, if you have a lot of offense coming from everywhere else. But we have struggled here offensively for two years."
LaPorta cited consistency as his primary problem.
"It's as simple as that, really," LaPorta said.
Acta noted that LaPorta has struggled with breaking balls, as well as using the whole field. The manager added that the first baseman has had issues with using his legs properly during his swing. On top of that, patience has been a consistent issue for a player who profiles to have good power and a solid walk rate.
"There's no magic to it," Acta said. "He's got to continue to play and continue to work and see what's going to eventually click for him. He has worked hard. We just want to see results. He's the one who has to do it. That's the bottom line.
"Regardless of what you work on, you still have to have the discipline to get pitches in the zone and do some damage."
Chicagoan Kipnis enjoys homecoming
CHICAGO -- Jason Kipnis might have a career in politics in his future. A native Chicagoan, the Indians second baseman insists that he was a fan of both the White Sox and Cubs while growing up in the northern suburbs.
"Pleasing everybody," Kipnis joked on Friday. "I'm covering my tracks."
Kidding aside, Kipnis said finally having the chance to play a game inside U.S. Cellular Field was a thrill on Thursday, even though the Indians dropped an 8-1 decision against the White Sox. Kipnis collected a single in the seventh inning, giving his local fans something to cheer about.
Kipnis, a native of Northbrook, Ill., estimated that he had roughly 10-15 family and friends, possibly more, in attendance for Thursday's game. The young second baseman had more than that on hand when he came to Chicago for Cleveland's Aug. 16-18 series, but that first homecoming hardly went as planned.
Kipnis missed the first two games of that three-game set with an oblique injury and then -- after making his way into the starting lineup for the finale -- he injured his right hamstring during a pregame stretch. It was a frustrating turn of events for Kipnis, who is happy to be healthy and back on the field.
"My mom finally got to see me play here," Kipnis said. "It's definitely a stadium I always wanted to play in. I had a blast doing it. I wish the outcome would've been different, but I'm still taking away some positives."
And, even when pressed, Kipnis is still insisting he rooted for both the White Sox and Cubs.
"I was a Chicago fan growing up," he said. "I didn't pick either side. I'm just a big overall city fan -- all sports across the board."
Judy's outing filled with injury, insult
CHICAGO -- Indians rookie reliever Josh Judy did not exactly have a banner day on Thursday.
In a span of six pitches in the seventh inning of Cleveland's 8-1 loss to the White Sox, Judy hit Chicago's Brent Lillibridge with a pitch and then surrendered a game-changing grand slam to slugger Paul Konerko.
Judy felt awful about both mistakes, which provided a classic case of adding insult to injury. Judy's errant pitch to Lillibridge fractured his right hand and will keep the utility man sidelined for the remainder of the season.
"It's a shame that something like that happened," Judy said prior to Friday's game against the White Sox. "You never want to see a guy's season end that way. I hope everything turns out OK for him."
The 25-year-old Judy joined the Indians on Sept. 2, one day after big league rosters expanded. After serving as a closer for much of this season with Triple-A Columbus, the right-hander has posted a 5.19 ERA in six appearances for the Tribe. Judy has eight strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings of work for Cleveland.
Quote to note
"You don't need to look at any stat, if you're watching the game, to know that Jack has saved a ton of runs for us. He's probably played the best third base in the American League this year."
--Indians manager Manny Acta, on third baseman Jack Hannahan
Designated hitter Travis Hafner (right foot) continued a running program on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field and continues to be hopeful of coming off the disabled list some time during the Tribe's current road trip. Hafner is also hoping to avoid surgery on the ailing foot over the offseason. Said Hafner: "I'm optimistic that I won't need that."
The Indians sent outfielder Jerad Head outright to Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Cleveland had designated Head for assignment on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Head hit .087 (2-for-23) in a recent eight-game stay with the Indians.
With the Minor League regular season over, Indians Minor League field coordinator Tom Wiedenbauer and Minor League pitching coordinator Dave Miller have joined Cleveland's coaching staff for the time being. Both were in uniform with the Major League ballclub in Chicago.
First baseman Matt LaPorta and his wife welcomed a daughter, Sienna Rose, into the world on Sunday. Sienna weighed 8 pounds, 4 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches in length. Prior to his daughter's birth, LaPorta went 4-for-9 with a home run and three RBIs in a two-game stint with Triple-A Columbus. He rejoined the Indians on Friday.