CLEVELAND — Matt LaPorta is back in Cleveland with a new approach and a different focus.
No longer pressing to live up to advanced billing as the key acquisition in the CC Sabathia trade with Milwaukee in 2008, LaPorta says he is concentrating on what he can control — his own fate.
“It’s been a problem that I’ve had to overcome,” said LaPorta, who was officially promoted from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday. “I can’t control what other people think. I’m not in control of somebody else’s happiness, so if they want to be upset with my performance, I’m sorry. It’s just something that over the years I’m trying to get better at.
“I think early on in my career, (the pressure from the trade bothered me). Anymore, it’s over with, obviously. It was three or four years ago or whatever it was. It is what it is now.”
LaPorta, who spoke with an edge, earned his promotion with an impressive start to the season at Columbus — .307 with 14 home runs and 32 RBIs in 46 games — but it’s been the big leagues where he has notoriously struggled at the plate. He replaced Johnny Damon on the 25-man roster, with Damon on the paternity list after his wife gave birth to twins. Damon is expected to return Wednesday, with LaPorta a candidate for demotion if he fails to produce.
“If it’s two days, three days, a week, it doesn’t matter,” said LaPorta, who started at first base Sunday and went 1-for-4 with a run in Cleveland’s 6-3 loss. “I expect to continue to do what I’m doing down (in Columbus). In time, if it happens, it happens. I think (manager) Manny (Acta) mentioned that it’s Triple-A. It’s different than the big leagues. We’ll see what happens.”
LaPorta’s year did not begin well. With two opportunities to make the club out of spring training, he failed on both fronts, struggling at the plate for much of the exhibition season before being optioned to Columbus.
“I kind of saw the writing on the wall at the time,” LaPorta said. “It is what it is. I’m still a blessed person. I’ve got a great family, a healthy kid. I can’t complain.”
While in Columbus, LaPorta said he was not keeping tabs on the Indians.
“I haven’t really paid much attention to it,” he said. “I played down there with the Clippers. My focus was on helping them out and winning. Now I’m up here, so I’ll focus on helping these guys out.”
Acta confirmed that catcher Carlos Santana will be activated from the seven-day disabled list Tuesday for the series opener in Detroit.
Santana, who has missed eight games with symptoms from a mild concussion, will catch in a rehab game at Class A Lake County on Monday before rejoining the Indians.
He’s hitting .245 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 43 games.
Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in the sixth inning to cap a 2-for-4 performance that raised the center fielder’s season average to .281.
Brantley’s streak is the longest by a Cleveland player this season.
The Indians are off today, beginning a three-game series against the Tigers at Comerica Park on Tuesday night (7:05).
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-4, 5.79 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing LHP Drew Smyly (2-1, 3.46), while Jeanmar Gomez (3-4, 4.42) goes for the Indians on Wednesday night (7:05) against RHP Max Scherzer (5-3, 5.55).
Derek Lowe (7-3, 3.06) starts the series finale Sunday (1:05 p.m.), while the Tigers counter with LHP Casey Crosby (0-1, 16.20).
The Indians has lost three straight series for the first time this year. … Lou Marson’s RBI double in the seventh inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high six games. … For the second straight season, designated hitter Travis Hafner celebrated his birthday (35th) on the disabled list.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.