October 25, 2014

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Indians notes from Thursday: Tribe gets good news on LaPorta front

CLEVELAND – The Indians received good news where Matt LaPorta’s left hip strain is concerned.

LaPorta, who left Sunday’s game after his second at-bat in the fourth inning, is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday for the series finale against the White Sox.

“He’s a lot better,” said manager Manny Acta, who said LaPorta would take fielding and batting practice tonight and might be available off the bench.

LaPorta said Sunday that he heard something pop in the hip when his striding left leg landed on a pitch that he took for a ball.

It was concerning because LaPorta had surgery on the same hip prior to the start of the season.

LaPorta, one of Cleveland’s most heralded young players, is batting .234 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 87 games for the Indians. He has been slumping after a hot start to his second stint in Cleveland this year, batting just .125 (7-for-56) with two homers and seven RBIs over his last 16 games.

 

Coming up?

Acta would not say whether the Indians will promote right-hander Carlos Carrasco from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday – the first day that major league rosters can expand to 40 players.

“I don’t have a date,” Acta said of Carrasco’s impending arrival. “I know Columbus is trying to get into the playoffs, but we don’t have a date for that yet.”

The Indians are trying to avoid undercutting the playoff hopes of the Clippers, who trailed first-place Louisville by 1 1/2 games in the International League’s West Division through Sunday, but led the wild-card race by 2 ½ games. The IL regular season ends Monday.

Carrasco is Columbus’ ace, going 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts.  

 

Cool change

Fausto Carmona has been fine-tuning his change-up, a pitch that gave him problems before the right-hander recently developed a new grip. It gives Carmona another pitch for hitters to worry about.

“It’s a way to stop him from being so predictable … sinker, sinker, sinker,” Acta said. “He’s getting more comfortable with it.”

 

Back in town

Manny Ramirez is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland today to join the White Sox, who claimed the former Indians slugger off waivers. He is expected to be in the lineup tonight against Cleveland, where Ramirez spent eight seasons from 1993-2000, and will be reunited with longtime Indians teammate and Sox third baseman Omar Vizquel.  

“It’s going to be fun to have Manny around again,” said Vizquel, who was a teammate of Ramirez’s for all but one of Ramirez’s eight seasons in Cleveland. “It’s always nice to have a guy that can change the outcome with one swing of the bat. I think that’s the main reason he’s here.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to keep everybody loose with his jokes and the way he acts.”

 

One more year

After getting off to a slow start, Vizquel thought this would be his last season in the majors. He has changed his mind.  

“I started saying that this might be my last year in the game,” said Vizquel, who has become Chicago’s fulltime third baseman and entered Monday batting .288 with a homer and 25 RBIs in 83 games. “Things weren’t getting any easier for me. But this is a great opportunity. I found a hole at third base. I’ve started to swing the bat well and I’m playing some good baseball.

“It made me re-think that I might have another year left in me.”

Vizquel, 42, is a free agent at the end of the year and said during spring training that he would like to play in Cleveland again. Vizquel played for the Indians in 11 of his 21 big league seasons from 1994-2004.   

 

Minor details

Columbus beat Indianapolis 10-5 Sunday, marking the 18th time this season that the Clippers have scored in double digits. Columbus also scored five runs or more in an inning for the 17th time this year. … Double-A Akron right-hander Chen-Chang Lee had allowed just one earned run over his last 18 games (27 2/3 innings) through Sunday. Lee, an undrafted free agent from Taiwan in 2008, entered Monday with a 5-4 record and 3.33 ERA in a team-leading 42 games for the Aeros.     

 

Roundin’ third

Indians pitchers entered Monday walking 3.4 batters per nine innings, compared to a 4.0 average in the first half. … Travis Hafner had been hit by 11 pitches through Sunday, which ranked third in the American League. … Tonight, 7:05, STO/WTAM 1100-AM/WEOL 930-AM. Masterson (5-12, 5.23) vs. Jackson (2-0, 0.96).

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroncilet.com.