02/10/2013 6:29 PM ET
LaPorta feeling 'a million times better'
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The odds are stacked against first baseman Matt LaPorta in his quest to crack the Opening Day roster, but he is trying not to think about that aspect of this spring, and instead is focusing on the fact that he is feeling better than he did at any point last season.
"I feel a million times better," LaPorta said on Sunday.
In October, LaPorta underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left hip to clean up bone fragments -- the result of abnormal bone growth following a hip procedure in 2009. He said the hip was a consistent source of pain throughout the 2012 season, but he chose to fight through the discomfort in an effort to reach the big leagues again.
LaPorta, 28, spent the bulk of last season with Triple-A Columbus, hitting .264 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 101 games. In 22 games for the Indians, he hit .241 with one homer and five RBIs. Throughout the season, he was fighting pain in the hip.
"The doctor was like, 'I don't know how you functioned on an everyday level, let alone played baseball,''' LaPorta said. "He was pretty surprised at how I was able to deal with all of that. I just really tried to take last year a day at a time. I knew something wasn't right.
"There would be days where I'd wake up and tell my wife, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to walk today. I don't know how I'll be able to play.' Somehow I just managed to make it through and do OK. There were times I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoe, because it was so locked up in there."
LaPorta -- a non-roster invitee -- has resumed a light running program, but he has not advanced to running the bases. If everything goes according to plan, he might be ready for game action by mid-March. Under the circumstances, he seems like a long shot to earn a job as a part-time first baseman or DH.
Right now he is not worrying about his chances of making the team.
"Any chance I get to put a uniform on is an opportunity," he said. "I'm still here. I'm getting healthy. The main thing is getting healthy. I don't want to put the cart before the horse and be thinking this or that. None of that matters if I'm not healthy."
Ubaldo hopes performance makes U-turn
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was mostly quiet at the Indians' Spring Training complex on Sunday morning, but pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez made a point of stopping by to get in a quick workout. Jimenez is doing everything possible to correct all that went wrong last season.
"Hopefully this year is going to be different," Jimenez said. "Last year my mechanics were terrible. It was a mess."
During the offseason, in the Dominican Republic, Jimenez once again worked out regularly with Nelson Perez, a strength coach for the Indians. New manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway also made trips to the D.R. to get a first-hand look at the pitcher and to begin establishing a rapport.
Jimenez appreciates that Francona and Callaway went to see him, and was impressed with Francona's efforts to reach out to Cleveland players since being hired in October.
"Definitely, that says something about him," Jimenez said. "That shows the kind of person that he is. He wants to be there for everybody. When he was named the manager, he sent me a text message, and I know he did the same with all the guys. He really wants to establish a relationship with all the players."
In 2012 the 29-year-old Jimenez went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA in 31 outings (176 2/3 innings), with 143 strikeouts, 95 walks and 16 wild pitches. In parts of two years with the Tribe, the right-hander has gone 13-21 with a 5.32 ERA in 42 appearances.
General manager Chris Antonetti expressed faith in Jimenez's ability to smooth out his mechanics.
"I think he still has great stuff and the ability to be a very effective Major League starting pitcher," Antonetti said. "But as we've talked about, the thing that's the key for him is consistency. It starts with his ability to execute his delivery consistently.
"I know he and Mickey have already spent time together this winter. Mickey feels like [Jimenez] is in a better spot now, and Ubaldo feels he's in a better spot now than he was at this point last year. Hopefully that leads to more success."
Quote to note
"I love Spring Training. ... Everybody is upbeat, justifiably. The glass is supposed to be half-full. It's a really fun time. You get to set the tone for exactly what you want to do."
-- manager Terry Francona
• Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera faced some criticism last spring for his physical condition at the start of camp, but he has turned some heads this year.
"All of the reports back have been very favorable," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "Our guys feel that he's in ... if not the best shape he's been in reporting, close to it."
• The contract of starting pitcher Brett Myers includes an $8 million club option for the 2014 season. The option vests if he reaches 200 innings this year and passes a physical at season's end. His 2013 contract ($7 million base) also includes $500,000 in available bonuses based on games finished and $750,000 in available bonuses based on innings pitched.
• Catcher Yan Gomes, who is in the mix for a bench job this spring, has not made it known whether or not he will play for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. Final rosters are due by Feb. 20; manager Terry Francona said the team will support Gomes' decision either way.
• With the exception of one pitcher, all of Cleveland's pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Sunday. Lefty Edward Paredes of the Dominican Republic -- a non-roster invitee -- is working through a passport issue.