IL notes: LaPorta has the right attitude

Clippers manager believes slugger will succeed in big leagues

By John Wagner / Special to | May 14, 2012 6:19 AM ET

Matt LaPorta has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Columbus Clippers.

But his stays in Columbus the previous two years were brief. And after playing in 110 games for Cleveland in 2010 and 107 more a year ago, no one would blame LaPorta for being surprised to be back with the Clippers to start this season.

Yet LaPorta is in Columbus again. The good news, for both Indians and Clippers fans, is that he hasn't moped about his return.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I was always hunky-dory," he said. "It's been frustrating at times. But that's life.

"There are things in everybody's life that happen and that you don't want to happen, and you have to find a way to rise above them."

So far, LaPorta has risen to this latest challenge, hitting .336 in his first 30 games to rank sixth in the International League. He's tied for third with nine homers and leads the team with 21 RBIs. His 37 hits include seven doubles, giving him a .645 slugging percentage that ranks third in the IL.

But Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh said those numbers have not been the most impressive part of LaPorta's season so far.

"Matt came here with a good attitude right from the start," Sarbaugh said. "That's one of the reasons he's having the success he is having. He isn't worried about where he is. He has put more emphasis on what he needs to do to make himself a better, more consistent player. He's not feeling sorry for himself."

LaPorta hit .221 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs with the Indians in 2010, then batted .247 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs last season. But Cleveland signed Casey Kotchman this offseason to compete with LaPorta for the first base job. And when LaPorta hit .167 in Spring Training, he found himself in Columbus.

LaPorta said his faith isn't shaken by this turn of events.

"I know God has me right where he wants me," he said. "I can't control [where I am]. I can control my attitude, my approach to the game and my approach to life. And that's it."

LaPorta came to the Indians from the Brewers in 2008 as one of the key components in the C.C. Sabathia trade. His first manager in the Cleveland organization was Sarbaugh, who had the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder when he came to Double-A Akron in 2008.

"All players mature and learn each year," Sarbaugh said. "But because Matt has been through some things, I think it has helped the transition of starting the year here."

Sarbaugh said the Indians still believe the 27-year-old will be a Major League regular.

"By no means have we lost faith in Matt," he added. "Few people in the game have the power that Matt has. The ball jumps off his bat.

"Matt moved through the Minor Leagues quickly, and I've told Matt that I think this can be good for him."

In brief

Good eye: Last season, Syracuse OF Corey Brown hit .235 and struck out 134 times in 124 games. In Spring Training, he started an eye-strengthening program that has yielded results this year. Brown has hit .267 in 36 games and, more importantly, has struck out only 27 times while drawing 26 walks. Brown, who has batted leadoff in every game he's played, also boasts a .389 on-base percentage.

Anderson's all right: After hitting .333 in 21 games in April, Durham 1B-OF Leslie Anderson has found a way to get even hotter in May. The Cuban defector, who batted .277 in 121 games for the Bulls last season, has posted a .375 mark in his first 11 games this month. For the year, Anderson is fourth in the IL with a .347 average, adding a homer, 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored.

He said it: "It was kind of unexpected. I thought it was a mistake. But it doesn't really matter where you are in the lineup, you still have to do your job." -- Louisville DH Bill Rhinehart to the Louisville Courier-Journal on May 9. Rhinehart, who batted cleanup that day for the first time all season, homered in a 6-5 win over Norfolk.

John Wagner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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